Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has appointed a new United Nations envoy, Hamid Abutalebi, a veteran diplomat who has served in several ambassadorial capacities throughout Europe over the years, Reuters reported Saturday.

According to various reports, Abutalebi was among the students who stormed the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Still, and despite the fact that he served as a diplomat under the hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is considered a relative moderate in the West.

Reuters quoted a Western UN diplomat as saying that Abutalebi was close to the same circles as Rouhani and the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, himself hailed as a more pragmatic voice among the Iranian ruling class.

Iran has applied for a visa for Abutalebi, who was selected months ago to replace the outgoing ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, the report said, citing Iranian sources.

He hopes to begin his post as early as next month, the sources said.