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Rep. King: Kick Iranians out of UN

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Peter King said Wednesday that the United States should kick out Iranian officials at the United Nations in New York and in Washington because many of them are spies.

Speaking at a hearing, King (R-Seaford) said such a move would send a clear signal after the recent alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

The U.S. and Iran have no diplomatic relations and thus there are no Iranian diplomats in the U.S. except those attached to the UN mission in New York. Iran maintains a full-time UN ambassador and a staff there. Although those diplomats are allowed to live in the U.S. for that purpose, the UN is an independent international body and the U.S. cannot simply kick out diplomats accredited there en masse.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is setting up an Internet-based embassy to reach out to Iranians hoping to broaden their understanding of the United States, while at the same time studying new sanctions to raise the pressure on Iran's government over its disputed nuclear program and alleged ties to terrorism.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in interviews Wednesday with Persian-language media that the U.S. wanted to affirm its friendship to the Iranian people even at a time of rising tensions with Tehran. As part of that, she said a "virtual embassy in Tehran" will be online by the end of the year, helping Iranians wishing to travel or study in the United States.

"We're trying to reach out to the Iranian people," Clinton said. "We've tried to reach out to the government, just not very successfully."

Clinton stressed that the U.S. was committed to its approach of engagement and sanctions toward the Iranian government. But she said the outreach was directed to Iranians who've suffered as a result of their government's "reckless" conduct" regarding uranium enrichment, fomenting unrest in neighboring countries and its role in the alleged assassination plot.

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