Iran's newly appointed UN ambassador is set to receive a US visa so he can take up that key post, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday, likely removing a major strain on Tehran's tense relations with Washington.
Washington had infuriated Iran's leadership last year by rejecting its previous appointee as head of its sole diplomatic mission on US soil over his suspected role in a 1979-81 hostage crisis.
Iran's state-run Tasnim news agency carried an official announcement on Wednesday that Iran had appointed career diplomat Gholamali Khoshrou, whose surname is also spelled Khoshroo, as its United Nations envoy. But it did not say whether he had been approved by Washington.
Several diplomatic sources, including a senior Iranian official, told Reuters on condition of anonymity it was almost certain that Khoshrou, a US-educated veteran diplomat with close ties to the reformist camp of former president Mohammad Khatami, would be approved by the United States.
An Iranian official told Reuters that the appointment had already been discussed at a senior level by US and Iranian officials prior to the Iranian announcement.
"Khoshrou has already been at the Iranian mission (to the United Nations) with the rank of ambassador and unless something crazy comes up, he's going to get his (UN) accreditation," a Western diplomatic source said.
The United States, which hosts the United Nations, said in April that Iran's initial candidate, Hamid Abutalebi, was unacceptable given his role in a 444-day crisis in which Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. Abutalebi said he acted only as a translator.