US may test influence at UN by denying visa to Iran envoy

WASHINGTON - The United States may soon deny a visa to Iran's proposed UN ambassador, two US officials said on Wednesday, a rare and potentially precedent-setting step that would test US influence over the world body.
The US government objects to Hamid Abutalebi entering the United States because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days starting in 1979, when the group seized control of the US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran.
Iran on Wednesday rejected US reservations about the veteran diplomat as "unacceptable." Abutalebi has played down his role in the embassy takeover, saying that he was only a translator for some of the militants.
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