- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

WASHINGTON — The United States has informed Iran that it will not issue a visa to Tehran’s controversial pick for envoy to the United Nations, the White House said Friday.

Denying visas to U.N. ambassadorial nominees or to foreign heads of state who want to attend United Nations events in the United States is rare, if not unprecedented.

The Obama administration had previously said only that the nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, was “not viable.” U.S. officials had hoped the issue could be resolved by Tehran simply withdrawing the nomination.

Aboutalebi’s nomination has outraged members of Congress, who passed a bill barring entry to the U.S. to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat to national security.

White House spokesman Jay Carney would not say whether President Barack Obama would sign the bill but said the president shares its sentiments.

Iran has called U.S. rejection of Aboutalebi “not acceptable,” with Iranian state television quoting Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying Aboutalebi is one of the country’s best diplomats and arguing that he previously received a U.S. visa.

Aboutalebi has insisted his involvement in the group involved in the embassy takeover, Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, was limited to translation and negotiation.

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