By Micah HalpernI've Been Thinking:
Everyone who enters the United States needs a visa. That includes diplomats and even ambassadors to the United Nations. Even heads of state traveling to speak at the UN need visas.
The man appointed to be the ambassador to the UN for Iran was denied his visa. So Iran needed to appoint a new ambassador.
Hamid Aboutalebi was the original Iranian appointment. The United States said "no" to his entry, even on a restricted visa that would have permitted him the ability to travel a 25 mile radius from the epicenter the UN which would include all New York City airports. The US State Department denied entry to Aboutalebi because they believe that he was involved in the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran.
This is very important.
There was a time, in November of 1988, under President Reagan, when the United States would not grant a visa to Yasser Arafat because he "knows of, condones and lends support to acts of terror." As a result, Arafat could not address the United Nations in New York.
In that instance the United Nations picked up, packed up and moved the General Assembly to Europe, specifically to Geneva, Switzerland, and Arafat was able to deliver his address to the UN.
There is a lesson in all of this. I am glad that the United States, or at least the State Department, is using the law to take a stand on certain important issues. I wonder when the White House became aware of the decision.
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