Home | News    Tuesday 28 November 2006

US to suspend issuing visas in Eritrea

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Nov 27, 2006 (ASMARA) — The United States said it would suspend issuing tourist and business visas in Eritrea beginning next week as Asmara has not yet allowed a new consular officer to take up the post.

The move comes amid growing tension between Washington and Asmara, particularly over Ethiopia and Somalia, where US officials say Eritrea is interfering and Eritrea makes similar charges against the United States.

The US embassy said it would temporarily suspend issuing non-immigrant visas "pending permission from the government of the State of Eritrea for US diplomatic personnel to travel to Eritrea to provide these services."

"Non-immigrant visa services will resume as soon as possible after the government of the State of Eritrea issues the necessary visas to US consular officers to travel to Asmara," it said.

The suspension takes effect on December 4, the embassy said.

US diplomats declined to say how long they had been waiting for the visa to be granted, but said other diplomatic missions had faced similar obstacles in their staffers being given permission to enter Eritrea.

"We are hoping that this can be cleared up quickly, so we can get back to business," said US embassy spokeswoman Carol Herrera.

"However, while in this case it as about a specific individual, it is a wider problem for other missions here as well," she told AFP.

Eritrean officials were not immediately available to comment on the decision, which comes as Eritrea has racheted up anti-US rhetoric in recent weeks, accusing Washington of fomenting war in Somalia.

US officials, along with United Nations weapons experts, have accused Eritrea of supporting Somalia’s powerful Islamist movement that is now girding for war with the country’s weak government.

Eritrea denies the charges and in turn blames the United States for instability in Somalia by backing warlords and Asmara’s arch-foe Ethiopia, which is supporting the Somali government.

Earlier this month, an Eritrean government-run website accused Washington of trying to "overthrow governments through... intimidation" and of "serving its self-interest and ensuring the exploitation of resources."

(AFP)

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