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Iranian General Urges Tehran To Pick New UN Envoy

Iran's chosen ambassador to the UN, Hamid Abutalebi (file photo)
A senior Iranian military official has called on Tehran to name a new envoy to the United Nations after Washington refused to issue a visa to its chosen ambassador, Hamid Abutalebi.

Abutalebi has been accused of being involved in the 1979 hostage-taking of U.S. diplomats in Tehran -- a claim he rejects, saying he only served as a translator for the hostage-takers.

General Mohammad Bagherzadeh, who heads the army's Committee for the Search of the Missing in Action, said on April 19 that Abutalebi should stay in Tehran to be close to his mother, who lost two sons during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Abutalebi's brothers, Farid and Majid, were both in the committee's list of Iranian soldiers missing during the 1980-1988 war. However, the committee recently established that Majid was killed in action.

On April 18, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law barring any individual from entering the United States who "has been found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity against the U.S. and its allies," or if that person is deemed to pose a threat to national security.

Tehran says it is challenging Washington's decision through "legal channels."

Iran's Foreign Ministry had said it was not considering an alternative pick to Abutalebi.

Iranian authorities say Washington's opposition to Abutalebi's entry undermines the UN's status and will negatively influence the member states' activities.

Iranian lawmaker Mohammad Saleh Jokar said the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission plans to discuss the issue on April 20.

Iran's Fars news agency quoted Jokar as saying the United States "wants to impose its views on the world through force and supremacy."

The lawmaker condemned the U.S. visa denial to Abutalebi and accused Washington of undermining "the rules of the world scene."

Abutalebi has previously served as Iran's ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, Italy, and Australia.

With reporting by and AP
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