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UNITED NATIONS

Cuba sides with Iran at private meeting over UN ambassador dispute, sources say

Cuba piped up as one of the few countries to side with Iran at a meeting Tuesday of a United Nations committee where Iran formally protested – and the United States defended – the decision by the Obama administration to bar Iran’s U.N. ambassador pick from U.S. soil.

On Friday, President Obama signed legislation that effectively bars Hamid Aboutalebi from getting a U.S. visa because of his role during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

Iran appealed its case to a U.N. committee on Tuesday. Diplomats told Fox News that the Cuban ambassador spoke in defense of Iran, and used the meeting of the 19-member panel to criticize the United States for its handling of the situation.

The panel to which Iran was appealing also includes China and Russia.

Diplomats, though, told Fox News that the process of reviewing Iran’s case could take weeks, if not months.

Aboutalebi says he was only a translator at the time militants took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held it for 444 days. He also has been accused of being part of a 1993 political assassination of an Iranian defector in Rome, where Aboutalebi was serving as Iranian ambassador. However, he never was charged in that case and Iran’s mission to the U.N. told Fox News the allegation was nonsense.

Officials of the opposition Council of Resistance of Iran called on the U.N. to abide by Washington’s decision not to admit Aboutalebi

Fox News' Eric Shawn and Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this story