Russia ‘bewildered’ over US visa denial to Iran UN envoy pick

Russia has criticized Washington for its refusal to issue a visa to Iran’s appointee for the position of ambassador to the United Nations, saying the move is in violation of the US commitments as a host of the UN headquarters.



“The recent decision of the US authorities to deny an entry visa to Mr. Hamid Aboutalebi, a new Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, has caused our bewilderment,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This move, which represents a departure by the United States from its commitments as a country hosting the UN headquarters, cannot be seen as anything else than a means of political pressure from Washington on a UN member state,” it added.

On April 10, the US House of Representatives unanimously approved a legislation that prevents Aboutalebi from entering the US. The White House has also said it would not issue a visa to Aboutalebi.

Under the 1947 Headquarters Agreement, the United States, as the host country of the UN, is required to allow access to the world body for foreign diplomats.

“Federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of … representatives of members or officials of the United Nations,” the Russian foreign ministry said, referring to the Headquarters Agreement.

The ministry added relations between the US and the countries of the representatives should have no effect on the implementation of the agreement.

This provision “shall be applicable irrespective of the relations existing between the governments of the persons referred to in that section and the government of the United States,” the ministry said, pointing to the Section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement.

The ministry also touched upon the consequences of such a move by the US, saying, “One more reason for our anxiety is that such conduct impedes the normal routine of the United Nations.”

Washington says has denied a visa to Aboutalebi because he was involved in the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran during post-revolution incidents in 1979.

Aboutalebi denies any direct role in the embassy takeover, saying he worked as an interpreter while negotiations for the release of the hostages were going on.

On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian university students took over the US Embassy in Tehran, which they believed had turned into a den of espionage. Documents found at the compound later corroborated the claims by the students.



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