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Published: Wednesday April 9, 2014 MYT 7:16:37 PM
Updated: Wednesday April 9, 2014 MYT 7:16:37 PM

Iran says U.S. attitude to choice of U.N. envoy 'unacceptable'

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran on Wednesday dismissed as "unacceptable" U.S. government reservations about Tehran's choice of Hamid Abutalebi as its new U.N. ambassador, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Some members of the U.S. Congress have expressed outrage at the selection of the veteran Iranian diplomat, who they accuse of playing a role in the 1979-81 hostage crisis in Iran when U.S. embassy workers were held for 444 days.

The White House made clear on Tuesday it did not welcome Abutalebi, saying officials had told Tehran that the selection was "not viable".

But White House spokesman Jay Carney stopped short of saying Abutalebi would be barred from entering the United States.

"The attitude of the U.S. government towards Iran's (choice) for U.N. envoy is not acceptable. Iran has officially conveyed its views," IRNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying. The spokesperson said Abutalebi was among Iran's best and most experienced diplomats, noting he had "ambassadorship experience" in Italy, Belgium and Australia.

As the "host" nation for the U.N. headquarters, the United States is generally required to provide access to the United Nations for foreign diplomats. However, the State Department last week said U.S. law allows it to deny visas to diplomats for reasons of "security, terrorism, and foreign policy".

(Reporting by Mehrdad Balali; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Alison Williams)

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