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U.S. House votes to bar Iran's new UN envoy from entry

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation by unanimous consent that would ban Iran's new United Nations ambassador from entering the United States.

Lawmakers sponsoring the bill said that Iran's new UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, should be banned from entry to the United States because he was a member of a militant group that held 52 Americans hostage when it seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The House's vote came after the Senate passed a companion bill on Monday. The Congress now sent the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature into law.

The White House has told the Iranian government that the selection of Aboutalebi is "not viable." However, White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday declined to say whether Obama would support the bill.

"We've made clear and have communicated to the Iranians that the selection they've put forward is not viable, and we're continuing to make that understood," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. "In terms of legislation, I just don't have a view on it in terms of the President at this time."

The U.S. stance on Iran's proposed new ambassador to the United Nations is "unacceptable," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by official IRNA news agency on Wednesday.

Aboutalebi has already applied for a visa to work at the UN's New York headquarters.

The White House has insisted the controversy would not impact ongoing nuclear negotiations.

"The talks continue; they continue to be workmanlike and productive. And we've seen no impact on those discussions from some of these other issues," Carney said.

The United States, along with Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany, is engaging in talks with Iran with a view to reaching a comprehensive agreement over the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program following a first-step deal in November.

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