UNITED NATIONS  : Iran on Tuesday made a strong case before a UN committee  against US’ move not to grant an entry visa to the Iranian ambassador-designate to the UN, but the 19-member body failed to take any action to resolve the issue.

Diplomats said the United States stood firm on its decision as the Committee on Relations with the Host Country discussed Iran’s complaint. Four committee members - Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Ecuador - spoke up in support of Iran, they said, adding that no country spoke in favour of the US stand. Cypriot Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, who chairs the committee, told reporters after the closed meeting that the issue remains on the committee’s agenda “and we will revert to it if necessary.”

“Iran and the United States presented their views on the well-known incident concerning the denial of visa to the new permanent representative of Iran,” said the Cypriot ambassador, adding, “There was a discussion... with the participation of several delegations.”

US President Barack Obama signed legislation on April 18 to block Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi from entering the United States to become Iran’s permanent representative to the UN because of his alleged involvement in the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran. Aboutalebi has insisted he acted only as an interprter for the student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the embassy takeover.

Iran has accused the US of setting a dangerous precedent by violating the right of sovereign states to designate representatives to the United Nations. Tehran has refused to designate another UN ambassador to replace Aboutalebi.

The United States was represented at Tuesday’s meeting by deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo and Iran by its charge d’affaires, deputy ambassador Gholamhossein Dehghani.

Dehghani told the committee that Aboutalebi “is a seasoned and well-known career diplomat who already served in three ambassadorial postings” and that the US denial of a visa “flagrantly contravenes” the US agreement with the UN, which obliges the US to promptly grant visas without regard to where they come from, according to a copy of his remarks released late Tuesday by Iran’s UN mission.

Dehghani asked the UN legal counsel “to take all necessary measures to have the United States authorities abide by their legal obligations under the Headquarters Agreement.” He also asked the committee to ask the US to reconsider its decision not to give a visa to Aboutalabi.

The United States said it took its responsibility as host country for the United Nations very seriously but expressed longstanding concerns about Aboutalebi’s admitted role in the hostage crisis, the diplomats said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday in response to a question about the visa denial that “as far as we know this is a unique case involving a permanent representative.”

The committee members are: member states: Bulgaria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, France, Honduras, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Russian Federation, Senegal, Spain, United Kingdom, and the