DIPLOMACY

Senate bill would bar Iranian UN envoy tied to hostage-taking from US

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 12:13am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 12:13am
 

The US Senate has approved a bill that would bar an alleged hostage-taker who has been tapped to be Iran's ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States.

The legislation reflected congressional animosity towards Tehran and its selection of Hamid Aboutalebi. Iran's envoy choice was a member of a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in the 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran . The "nomination is a deliberate and unambiguous insult to the United States", Senator Ted Cruz said in remarks on the Senate floor on Monday in which he described Iran's anti-Americanism since 1979.

"This is not the moment for diplomatic niceties," he said.

The Senate bill would deny entry to the US to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat to national security.

Cruz had proposed legislation last week to deny visas to a UN applicant if the president determines the individual has engaged in terrorist activity.

He modified his measure, though it was still unclear what entity, such as an international court, would determine an individual's standing.

Last week, Cruz questioned the wisdom of holding talks with the Iranian government about its nuclear programme in light of Iran's choice for ambassador.

The US has objected to Iran's anticipated selection of Aboutalebi, but the Obama administration stopped short last week of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the US.

Aboutalebi has reportedly insisted that his involvement in the group Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line was limited to translation and negotiation.

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