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Iranian official: Scuffle over U.N. ambassador won’t derail nuclear talks

By Reuters
Friday, April 11, 2014 15:16 EDT
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International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and Iranian technicians (AFP)
 
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ANKARA (Reuters) – An Iranian official said on Friday a U.S. decision to deny a visa to an Iranian diplomat to allow him to become Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations would not affect Tehran’s nuclear talks with world powers.

The official told Reuters it would be for the Iranian foreign ministry to “take the necessary measures” in any official response by the Islamic Republic to the U.S. decision to bar Hamid Abutalebi.

But the U.S. move “will have no impact on our talks with the P5+1 “, the official added, using a phrase that refers to the six powers involved in negotiating with Tehran. The official declined to be identified.

The U.S. government objects to Abutalebi because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days starting in 1979, when the group seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

The White House said on Friday that Abutalebi would not be issued a visa.

U.S. President Barack Obama had come under strong pressure from the U.S. Congress not to allow Abutalebi into the country. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United Nations and Iran had been told “that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Abutalebi”.

The decision effectively bars Abutalebi from taking up the U.N. position.

The announcement came a day after the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in voting to bar the Iranian from entering the United States.

The six powers want Iran to curb its nuclear activity, which Western nations fear is aimed at giving Tehran the capability to manufacture an atomic bomb. Iran denies that and wants them to lift economic sanctions.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Writing by William Maclean, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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