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Obama signs law aimed at blocking Iran's UN envoy

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill aimed at denying US visa to new Iranian envoy to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, because of his ties to the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran.

The new law S.2195 bars from entering US soil "any representative to the United Nations who the President determines has been engaged in terrorist activity against the US or its allies and may pose a threat to America's national security interests."

Obama said as the former IUS President George Bush observed in signing the Foreign Relations Authorisation Act, Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, this provision "could constrain the exercise of my exclusive constitutional authority to receive within the United States certain foreign ambassadors to the United Nations."

"Acts of espionage and terrorism against the United States and our allies are unquestionably problems of the utmost gravity, and I share the Congress's concern that individuals who have engaged in such activity may use the cover of diplomacy to gain access to our nation," he said in a statement yesterday.

Nevertheless, as President Bush also observed, "curtailing by statute my constitutional discretion to receive or reject ambassadors is neither a permissible nor a practical solution."

So the measure should be taken as an "advisory," because it could potentially interfere with his "constitutional discretion" to receive or reject ambassadors, he said.

The decision of the United States to deny a visa to the Iran's nominee to the United Nations could have wide international ramifications.

Aboutalebi is a top adviser to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, since Iranian election, the US has been pursuing with Iran a very a clear-eyed effort with its allies on the P5-plus-1 to press Iran to forsake and give up its nuclear weapons programme.

"We continue to work on that effort."

In 1979, dozens of American diplomats and staff were held for 444 days by radical Iranian students at the US embassy in Tehran after the overthrow of the pro-Western shah.

The standoff led to the severing of all diplomatic ties between the US and Iran for the past three decades.

Aboutalebi has insisted he was not part of the hostage-taking in November 1979.

First Published: Sat, April 19 2014. 08:28 IST