Iran has requested an urgent meeting of a United Nations committee over the recent decision by the US to deny a visa to the Islamic Republic’s appointee for the position of ambassador to the UN.
In a Monday letter to the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country, Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN asked for a special meeting of the body to address Washington’s refusal to issue Iran’s appointee Hamid Aboutalebi a visa.
The Iranian mission to the UN further expressed Tehran’s “serious concern” over Washington’s visa denial to Aboutalebi, saying Washington’s move is “in contravention of international laws and its obligations under the Headquarters Agreement.”
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.
However, on April 11, the White House said it had announced to Iran and the UN that the US would not issue Aboutalebi a visa.
The announcement came a day after the US House of Representatives unanimously approved a legislation that would prevent Aboutalebi from entering the US. The US Senate had earlier approved the legislation in a voice vote.
The White House is still reviewing the legislation, which must be signed by US President Barack Obama before taking effect.
Washington says it is denying Aboutalebi a visa because he was involved in the takeover of the former US embassy in Tehran during post-revolution incidents in 1979. Aboutalebi, however, says, he worked merely as an interpreter while negotiations were going on for the release of the embassy staff.
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.