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US troubled by Iran's choice of its UN ambassador

October Surprise

BY LARA JAKES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. objected Wednesday to Iran's anticipated selection of a former hostage-taker at the American Embassy in Tehran as its newest ambassador to the United Nations. But the Obama administration stopped short of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the United States.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf called the potential nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi "extremely troubling" and said the U.S. has raised its concerns with Tehran. Lawmakers in Congress who usually disagree on everything - ranging from liberal New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer and conservative Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz - have demanded that Aboutalebi be barred from living and working in the United States.

But Harf noted that except in limited cases, the U.S. is generally obligated to admit the chosen representatives of member states to U.N. headquarters in New York.

"We're taking a close look at the case now, and we've raised our serious concerns about this possible nomination with the government of Iran," Harf told reporters. She added: "But we do take our obligations as host nation for the United Nations very seriously."

Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran's Mission to the United Nations, had no comment Tuesday on his government's choice for ambassador

Aboutalebi was a member of a Muslim student group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. He reportedly has insisted that his involvement in the group - Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line - was limited to translation and negotiation.

But lawmakers have derided Aboutalebi as a terrorist and a key conspirator in the hostage crisis, and warned that his nomination would escalate tensions in already delicate negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program.

In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry, Schumer said Aboutalebi's association with the student group should make him ineligible for a visa or diplomatic immunity in the U.S.

"This man has no place in the diplomatic process," Schumer said in a separate statement. "Iran's attempt to appoint Mr. Aboutalebi is a slap in the face to the Americans that were abducted, and their families. It reveals a disdain for the diplomatic process and we should push back in kind."

Earlier this week, Cruz questioned the wisdom of negotiating with the Iranian government in light of what he called its "deliberately insulting and contemptuous" choice for U.N. ambassador. The nuclear negotiations are set to resume next week in Vienna.

Harf insisted the nuclear talks and the U.N. envoy were separate issues, even as she noted Washington's ongoing concerns with Iran on multiple fronts.

"On the nuclear issue, they have upheld their commitments," Harf said. "We hope they will continue to."

---

Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Join the discussion

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Lonnie April 03 2014 at 11:26 AM

Obama administration stopped short of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the United States.
finily getting a set of ball's

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Leroy Gd Lonnie April 03 2014 at 11:35 AM

No, they stopped short of having balls.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
classicconnusa April 03 2014 at 9:23 AM

Perhaps when he shows up for his new job - he will be taken hostage - no dangerous stuff- just blindfolded and held somewhere for a few years. This is nuts! We might consider sending Charles Manson as our envoy!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
sscott5145 April 03 2014 at 2:19 AM

Just tell Iran that this man is on the U.S. "no entry" list. He committed a crime against America and is banned. Period. If they want someone to represent Iran at the U.N., they will have to find someone who is cleared.

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1 reply
madlyfem sscott5145 April 03 2014 at 2:28 AM

We let Castro in and we won't even talk to him.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
llmoss13 April 03 2014 at 12:05 PM

If Iran is stupid enough to send him, then we should arrest him.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Sal April 03 2014 at 12:05 PM

Keep him OUT!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
handsome devil ! April 03 2014 at 2:41 AM

try him in absentia, give him life in prison and when he enters the u.s., throw him in the slammer. and his "diplomatic"passport right after him.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Redding Holbert April 03 2014 at 2:55 AM

The US should remove the whole Iranian delegation.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
poker25005 April 03 2014 at 3:11 AM

The United States government should refuse to give him a visa and not allow him to enter the country. This would serve two purposes, it would send a message to Iran as well as the U.N. that we are tired of their crap and I think we should throw the U.N. out of the United States as well

Flag Reply +9 rate up
fegr61 April 03 2014 at 11:35 AM

let him in. maybe someone will grab him and take him hostage or the FBI will shoot him 7 times 'cause he made a threatening move.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
george3373 April 03 2014 at 8:09 AM

It is nice to be able to comment on AOL news since the HP news allows only facebook people and therefore is screening input. All you have to do is read the one way comments

AOL for your own credibility either change the HP to openess or stop using them for news

Flag Reply +10 rate up
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