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Middle East

Obama signs bill aimed at blocking Iran's UN envoy

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks before presenting the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the United States Naval Academy football team in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington April 18, 2014. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has signed legislation aimed at blocking Iran's chosen ambassador to the United Nations but says he's only treating it as guidance.

The unusual legislation bars anyone from entering the U.S. as a U.N. representative if they've engaged in espionage or terrorist activity and still pose a threat to U.S. security. It's aimed at blocking Hamid Aboutalebi. He's linked to the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Obama says he shares lawmakers' concern that terrorists could use diplomatic cover to enter the U.S. But he says he will treat the legislation as advisory out of concern it could interfere with his discretion to receive ambassadors.

The White House has said Aboutalebi was an unacceptable choice. The administration has refused to grant him a visa.

 
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