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Former NATO chief denied visa waiver for USA entry

Javier Solana the former secretary-general of NATO | J.J. Guillen  EPA

U.S. denied visa-free entry to the former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana because of the visits to Iran where he held talks on the nuclear deal. "It's a bit of a mean decision", he said regarding the United States' decision to deny him the ESTA. They have to apply for new Electronic System for Travel Authorization permission before traveling to the U.S.

Solana, who was scheduled to give a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, was refused U.S. visa by an electronic authorization system because of visiting the rival state, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

Spaniards do not need visa for short stay (until 90 days) in the United States, however, this does not guarantee that they can't refuse entry at the border, writes El Pais.

The system prohibits Estas for any citizen of 38 countries who visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen before 1 March 2011.

Solana, who has also served as Spain's foreign minister, said he had been invited to Iran in 2013 to attend President Rouhani's inauguration. "I don't think it's good because some people have to visit these complicated countries to keep negotiations alive". Solana said he had gone to Iran as a representative of all sides that were party to the negotiations with Tehran, the Guardian reported.

The visa rules date from the Barack Obama administration and is unrelated to Trump's highly controversial Muslim travel ban that targets six Middle Eastern and African countries.

Solana hopes to have the situation resolved as quickly as possible as he has professional commitments to honour in the United States that include doing work for worldwide organisations and serving as a professor at various universities.

The European Union's former High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (1999-2000) had his application turned down by USA authorities because he had previously traveled to Iran, which is included on American President Donald Trump's blacklist.