Source: Tehran Times
A UN committee took no action Tuesday on the U.S. refusal to grant a visa to Iran's chosen ambassador to the United Nations after hearing from both sides, the Associated Press reported. Instead, Cypriot Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, who chairs the committee, told reporters after the closed meeting that the issue remains on the committee's agenda "and we will revert to it if necessary."
U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation on April 18 to block Iranian Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi from entering the United States to become Iran's permanent representative to the UN because of his ties to the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Aboutalebi has said that he only served as a translator during the incident.
Iran says the U.S. has set a dangerous precedent by violating the right of sovereign states to designate representatives to the United Nations. Tehran has refused to designate another UN ambassador to replace Aboutalebi.
On Tuesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, "as far as we know this is a unique case involving a permanent representative."
At Tuesday's meeting, Emiliou said, "Iran and the United States presented their views on the well-known incident concerning the denial of visa to the new permanent representative of Iran."
"There was a discussion ... with the participation of several delegations," he said.
According to diplomats at the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because the session was private, North Korea, Cuba and Belarus spoke up in support of Iran.
They said that no country spoke in support of the U.S. position.
Iran's deputy ambassador to the UN, Hossein Dehghani, told the committee that Aboutalebi "is a seasoned and well-known career diplomat who already served in three ambassadorial postings" and that the U.S. denial of a visa "flagrantly contravenes" the U.S. agreement with the UN, which obliges the U.S. to promptly grant visas without regard to where they come from, according to a copy of his remarks released late Tuesday by Iran's UN mission.
"The Headquarters Agreement obligates the host country in clear terms, stipulating that "The 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 [...] of the United Nations", and that "When visas are required for persons referred to in that section, they shall be granted without charge and as promptly as possible"; it also stipulates that "Laws and regulations in force in the United States regarding the residence of aliens shall not be applied in such manner as to interfere with the privileges referred to in section 11," Dehghani said.
"Depriving Member States of their inherent right to designate their representatives to the United Nations based on their own internal procedures would adversely affect the functioning of the Permanent Missions. Furthermore, it undermines the work of the United Nations system and impairs the very foundations of multilateral diplomacy. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its strong protest to the U.S. Government for not fulfilling its international obligations in a separate note to the U.S. Mission in New York. Iran also requested the Legal Counsel of the Secretary-General to take all necessary measures to have the United States authorities abide by their legal obligations under the Headquarters Agreement," he added.
"We firmly believe that this is a very serious issue and the Committee should address it in an urgent and serious way. My delegation requests the Committee to pursue this issue earnestly and consider every way and means to rectify the process with a view to ensuring that the Host Country obligations, as specified in the Agreement, are fully met, including through reconsidering the decision regarding the issue at hand. We believe that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who represents one party to the bilateral treaty of Headquarters Agreement, has a responsibility to shoulder and has to work towards ensuring that the terms and provisions of the Agreement are strictly observed," Dehghani concluded.
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