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Iran lodges complaint against United States over U.N. envoy ban: IRNA

(Reuters) – Iran has complained to the United Nations about the United States refusing to grant a visa to its newly appointed U.N. ambassador over his role in the 1979 hostage crisis, state news agency IRNA said on Sunday.

Hamid Abutalebi has said that he acted only as a translator during the 444-day crisis when radical Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted by IRNA as saying that the issue had been “referred to the UN committee”.

“The official mechanisms for following up the complaint have been activated and we are going to follow up the case,” she said.

Iran had said on Saturday it would take action against Washington at the United Nationsover the matter.

Since an uproar among former U.S. hostages and U.S. lawmakers over Abutalebi broke out, Tehran has steadfastly stuck by its choice, describing Aboutalebi as a seasoned diplomat.

He has served as Iran’s ambassador to Italy, Belgium and Australia, and is not known for being a hardliner or for having staunchly anti-Western views.

U.S. President Barack Obama had come under strong domestic pressure not to allow Abutalebi into the United States to take up his position in New York, raising concerns that the dispute would disrupt delicate negotiations between Tehran and six world powers, including Washington, over Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. government can bar U.N. diplomats who are considered national security threats, but this potentially precedent-setting step could invite criticism that it is using its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.

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