North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban

An international passenger (L) arrives at Dulles International Airport as a man (R) waits for loved ones to arrive in Dulles, Virginia, U.S. on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 September 2017
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North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban

WASHINGTON: Citizens of eight countries will face new restrictions on entry to the US under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday.
The new rules, which will impact the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, will go into effect on October 18.
The restrictions rage from full travel bans on nationals from countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions. A suspension of non-immigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, for instance, applies only to senior government officials and their immediate families.
The announcement comes the same day as Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries is set to expire, 90 days after it went into effect. That ban had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the US
“As President, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” reads the proclamation.
Officials stressed that valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers .
The restrictions are targeted at countries that Department of Homeland Security officials say refuse to share information with the US or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.
“The acting secretary has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries,” said Miles Taylor, counselor to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, said Friday.
Unlike Trump’s first travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials said they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.
The restrictions are based on a new baseline developed by DHS that includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information and share information about travelers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The US then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.
The eight countries are those that refused or were unable to comply.
Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.
Critics have accused Trump of overstepping his authority and violating the US Constitution’s protections against religious bias. Trump had called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign.
The new policy could complicate the Supreme Court’s review of the order, which is scheduled for argument next month.


Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

Updated 16 July 2019
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Pakistan reopens airspace to civil aviation after India standoff

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opened its airspace to civil aviation on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff with neighboring India.
“With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website.
The move by Pakistan, which lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor, offers a welcome break for international airlines after the airspace restrictions affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.
India’s ministry of civil aviation said that after the lifting of the NOTAMS, there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.
“Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines,” it said.
Pakistan closed its airspace in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an armed standoff between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Both countries carried out aerial attacks over the other’s territory and warplanes fought a brief dogfight over the skies of the disputed Kashmir region during which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.
Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once the immediate crisis passed but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers using Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan’s announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until Oct. 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace.