UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Diplomats say Iran has dropped its bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Javed Faizal, a member of Maldives' U.N. Mission, said Friday that Iran announced its decision at a meeting of the Asia group, which was preparing its slate of candidates for next month's vote on new rights council members.

Iran was heavily criticized in February at the 47-member council's first review over its handling of human rights.

Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, praised Iran's decision to withdraw as a "good thing."

The Iranian mission did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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