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US mulls visa for Iran's hardline President

IranMania | August 9, 2005

The United States mulled the unprecedented step of refusing hardline Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad a visa to attend next month's UN General Assembly, the State Department said.

According to Agence France Press (AFP), Deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington was looking at the visa request by Ahmadinejad in light of allegations he might have been involved in the 1979 seizure of US diplomats in Teheran.

The United States is obliged to permit world leaders to attend UN meetings at the organization's headquarters in New York. Officials confirmed no visa had ever been refused for a head of state.

But Ereli said that in reviewing the Iranian president's request, the Americans were "also taking into consideration previous activities with respect to hostage-taking."

Five former US hostages have identified Ahmadinejad as an active participant in the storming of the US embassy in Teheran by radical students who held 52 diplomats captive for 444 days.

US officials have said that Ahmadinejad was definitely a leader of the student movement in Iran at that time. But they say they have yet to corroborate his direct involvement in the hostage taking.

"We also take very seriously information that someone has been involved in hostage-taking of American citizens in contravention of international law and international practice," Ereli said Monday.

"And that certainly is a relevant consideration in the (visa) matter at hand."

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