Javier Solana, former secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), has been refused a visa waiver by the US because of his past trips to Iran, a country that Washington has blacklisted.
Seventy-five-year-old Solana who led the Nato in the mid and late 1990s and helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 during his tenure (1999-2009) as the foreign policy chief of the European Union, was to speak at an event at Washington's Brookings Institution but learned soon that he would not be allowed to enter the US after trying to get an electronic visa waiver. He has to apply for a full visa which is a lengthy process.
As per the law, anybody who has visited any of the seven blacklisted countries - Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya - on or after March 1, 2011, are disallowed from getting a waiver and would have to apply for a visa. This rule existed before the current administration came up with its ban on travel on several Muslim countries besides North Korea.
Solana was disappointed and said such an outcome was not desirable since people had to visit these countries to continue with the negotiations.
A former foreign minister of Spain, Solana said he was invited in 2013 to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani. Solana said he had gone to Iran as a representative of all sides that were party to the negotiations with Tehran, the Guardian reported.
Solana had a number of engagements with Iran in the mid and late 2000s over the quest of the international community to see Iran curbing its nuclear ambitions, a process which led to the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
Current US President Donald Trump, however, decided to withdraw from the deal in May 2018.