An ex-NATO secretary-general and former EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has said he will apply for a visa, as The Hill reports. His electronic application for a US visa waiver, which lets citizens of certain countries travel freely, was rejected. Solana, who is a Spanish national, tried to register through a government system called ESTA, which the Homeland Security Department uses for background checks, according to The New York Times. But he failed to meet the requirements because of his trip to Iran in 2013 when he attended the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani as an Iran deal negotiator.
The Islamic republic is on a “stop list” along with Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, due to restrictions tightened under the Obama administration. According to them, people who visited the blacklisted countries after March 1, 2011, can’t count on a visa-free entry. However, the regulations have special provisions for journalists, representatives of international organizations or humanitarian groups, who can be granted waivers.
Solana, who was to address an event at Brookings Institution in Washington DC, told The Times that the waiver denial was “more bureaucratic than political,” but also voiced his disappointment.
“Some people have to go to countries with complicated situations to keep the negotiations alive,” Solana told Spain’s Antena 3 TV channel.