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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.

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tide596bsa April 03 2014 at 10:16 AM

Oh who cares, as soon as he gets here, let's keep him for 444 days in the subway system

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1 reply
Randy tide596bsa April 03 2014 at 11:10 AM

Or perhaps 444 days of having to listen to obama's dementia read off a teleprompter in a brain numbing monotone filled full of "uhs, ers, umms and pauses" as he tried to remember how his puppeteers told him to pronounce the word "corp".

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dukeless April 03 2014 at 9:25 AM

Seems appropriate we send a Hebrew foreign minister to Iran in return.

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1 reply
vernonugadawg dukeless April 03 2014 at 9:30 AM

This is not a question of one religion, it's a question of one involvement in a terrorist act against OUR COUNTRY!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
kcarthey vernonugadawg April 03 2014 at 9:38 AM

Should the Brits have accepted any of the first five Ambassadors we sent to London? They included Adams and Monroe as well as other American Revolutionaries.

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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
msggov April 03 2014 at 9:15 AM

x president carter should lead the charge to keep him out. it was his actions that assured his re-election defeat.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bsccrawdad April 03 2014 at 9:14 AM

Arrest him as soon as he steps off the plane.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
stymie500r April 03 2014 at 9:11 AM

I have an Idea, first let me throw the switch on all those "war criminal terrorists" we have on ice waiting for a "Civilian Trial" turning them into extra crispy turds, then make ME a UN Ambassador at least they will stop laughing at this administrations cowardice and stupidity.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
mgkz28 April 03 2014 at 9:10 AM

stop short?????why would obummer not stop this right now
this is so wrong
slap in our faces
more like a kick in the ass

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
stevenjonessales mgkz28 April 03 2014 at 9:12 AM

Read the frickin' article you twit.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Chrissy April 03 2014 at 9:08 AM

its a slap in all our faces if this man gets a visa to enter the US,

Flag Reply +8 rate up
kupiec8 April 03 2014 at 9:06 AM

Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism --- and wouldnot think twice of pulling your wife and daughter out of your house , rape them, then kill them in the name of Islam .... yep --- let him in and let's be friends ... idiot !!!!!!

Flag Reply +11 rate up
kmh47 April 03 2014 at 9:05 AM

This is a no brainer and does not justify a discussion.

Just say No...

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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