Ex-NATO chief Solana denied visa to USA for Iran visit

According to the New York Times, Solana, 75, said Monday that his application to renew the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was rejected for the first time.

USA 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.

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.

A former foreign minister for Spain, Solana was scheduled to speak at an event in Washington hosted by the Brookings Institution, where he is also a fellow.

Mr Solana last went to Iran in 2013 when he attended President Hassan Rouhani's inauguration.

Solana was part of the negotiating team that helped broker the landmark nuclear deal during his time as the European Union's foreign policy chief, a position he held from 1999-2009. The former head of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was denied entry into the United States because of a visit he made to Iran.

US authorities rejected Solana's application for entry through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

The Obama administration in 2016 tightened restrictions for ESTA, blocking citizens of 38 countries who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria after March 1, 2011, from using the program. Solana said he had gone to Iran as a representative of all sides that were party to the negotiations with Tehran, the Guardian reported.

"It's a bit of a mean decision".

"What they have (in the United States) is a computer with an algorithm, and if it knows that you went to Iran recently, it takes you off the system", he said.

Solana said he hoped to resolve the situation soon as he had professional commitments to honour in the United States: "I need to go because I need to work there and I'm a professor at various universities".

  • Rogelio Becker