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House votes to deny visa

by RICK GLADSTONE New York Times News Service on April 11, 2014 10:15 AM

The House on Thursday unanimously passed legislation approved by the Senate aimed at denying a visa to Iran’s choice for United Nations ambassador. The vote sent what sponsors called a blunt rejoinder to the Iranian government for having selected a nominee who played a role, however minor, in the 1979 American hostage crisis in Tehran.

The legislation, which goes to President Barack Obama for signature, reflected the raw political nerves rubbed by the nominee, Hamid Aboutalebi, a veteran diplomat who has said he once worked as an interpreter for the revolutionary student group that seized the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans for 444 days.

The Obama administration had already signaled its opposition to Aboutalebi, informing the Iranian government that the choice was “not viable,” while stopping short of denying him a visa or taking a position on the legislation. But the strong bipartisan approval of the legislation appeared to leave Obama with little choice but to sign the measure, potentially opening a new rift in the troubled relationship between the United States and Iran just as the countries are working on an agreement over the disputed Iranian nuclear program.

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