White House press secretary Jay Carney said Iran's pick to be its ambassador to the United Nations will not be admitted into the United States.
Hamid Aboutalebi was a member of the Muslim student group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Because the U.N. is based in New York, envoys must have U.S. visas to represent their countries.
“We take our host country responsibilities very seriously, which is why this is such a rare case,” Carney said Friday. “We've made it clear and communicated it that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Aboutalebi.”
Friday's statement was the most definitive comment the White House has made on the matter. Still, Carney declined to say whether President Barack Obama would sign legislation that already cleared the House and Senate earlier to deny a visa to Aboutalebi.
Carney previously said the nominee was “not viable” as a U.N. envoy for Iran, which is currently engaged in negotiations with the United States to do away with its nuclear weapons program.
Carney told TheBlaze earlier this month that the dispute over the ambassador choice and any other disputes are separate matters from the nuclear talks.
Iranian officials have said the U.S. rejection of Aboutalebi is “not acceptable,” and Iranian state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying Aboutalebi has previously received a U.S. visa.
Aboutalebi has said his involvement in the group involved in the embassy takeover, Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, was limited to translation and negotiation, the Associated Press reported.