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SYSTEMATIC INFORMATION SHARING
In keeping with this administration's commitment to openness, candor, and cooperation with the Congress, and in response to the finding of Congress expressed in Section 122, Public Law 95-426, the Department of State proposes the systematic sharing of certain information of the Department with the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate. This proposal is consistent with the Department's policy to provide the Congress with the information required to help it fulfill its constitutional role in foreign affairs. The Department is prepared, on a regular basis, to share with the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate background information on international political and economic issues systematicaly prepared in the Department. The Office of Congressional Relations will have responsibility for assembling and delivering such information regularly. The Office also has been authorized to work out with the designated representatives of the committees satisfactory controls over the dissemination of information that is provided.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN CITIZENS
Historically, foreign travelers have been able to travel in the United States virtually unrestricted. This openness not only derived from an apparent assumption that we have nothing to hide, but from a conviction that to know us is at least the beginning of understanding.
The United States has long encouraged all countries to adopt policies of openness in the belief that doing so would promote international understanding. Efforts in this behalf have taken many forms, for example, exchange programs sponsored by civic and religious organizations and by the U.S. Government, legislation passed by the Congress, and policy statements. In the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United States was a strong advocate of the removal of restrictions on the free movement of people and ideas. Since the signing of the CSCE Final Act at Helsinki in 1975, the United States has continued to work for the fulfillment of these and other provisions of this document.
Section 126 of Public Law 95–426 is a welcome new initiative in support of openness and provisions of international agreements calling for the removal of restrictions.
As a first step in implementing section 126, the Department of State has compiled information of existing restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens by foreign governments. On the basis of this information and in accordance with the provisions of the law, the Department will advise appropriate governments of the general policy expressed in section 126(a) and continue efforts to remove existing restrictions. The Department will report on the progress of these efforts in subsequent annual reports required in this provision.
In compiling this information, the Department concentrated on restrictions of travel within countries of an arbitrary nature. Visas or immigration laws and regulations as such were not considered an unwarranted restriction of travel since they are generally accepted in international and U.S. law and usually control entry into countries. However, in some cases they are applied in such a way as to constitute an arbitrary restriction of internal travel. In such cases, the restrictive action of the application of visa laws is duly noted.
Section 126(a) and section 126(b)(2) also refer to restrictions imposed by the United States on the private travel of foreign nationals. Aside from the restrictions imposed by the United States on the travel of certain foreign diplomats in accordance with international law discussed below, the only other such restrictions are applied in accordance with the provisions of U.S. visa laws. Restrictions are imposed almost exclusively in conjunction with the issuance of waivers of various grounds of visa ineligibility. These restrictions are not based on reciprocity or nationality but, as noted, on provisions of U.S. law. In the opinion of the Department, these restrictions are neither arbitrary nor discriminatory. Numerically, they are a minute portion of the visas issued to nonofficial foreign travelers. The overwhelming remainder of visas are issued without restrictions on travel within the United States.
The United States restricts the travel of diplomats and other officials of certain countries assigned to embassies and consulates in the United States and to the United Nations in New York. In this case, the restrictions are imposed for reasons of reciprocity and national security in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, of which the United States is a party. In this regard, the Department notes that subsection (d) of section 126 does not permit subsection (a) to be construed as limiting restrictions of travel by foreign officials which are imposed on the basis of reciprocity.
The United States has offered to remove restrictions on the travel of foreign officials if their governments would reciprocate by removing restrictions on the travel of U.S. officials in their countries. In one notable case, the Soviet Union, the United States has never received a positive response to these approaches, although some progress toward the liberalization of restrictions has been made in the ebb and flow of the changes of Soviet policy. When the Soviet Government liberalized their restrictions somewhat in 1974, the United States reciprocated. However, at that time, the United States closed the entire area of sereral States in the continental United States in response to the informal closing of a number of border areas in the Soviet Union. In 1976, in an initiative connected with the Helsinki Final Act, the United States reopened these areas to travel by Soviet diplomats. The Soviet Government did not respond and the border areas remained closed to travel by U.S. diplomats. In January 1978, the Soviet Government issued an ostensibly liberalized set of travel regulations, although most attempts by members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to travel in the areas newly opened by these regulations have so far been refused. At the same time, the border areas were formally closed to travel by U.S. diplomats.
In contrast to the almost unexceptional absence of restrictions on nonofficial foreign travel in the United States, a number of other governments impose restrictions on the nonofficial travel of U.S. citizens, and often of other foreigners as well. Based on the information available to the Department, following is a country-by-country description of those restrictions:
Afghanistan.--Tourists are welcome in Afghanistan but may not he permitted to travel to certain areas due to security conditions. Tourists are required to make in-country travel arrangements through Afghan Tours, the Government-owned travel agency. Precise travel regulations and procedures, however, have not been issued. Foreign atlicials must give a 2-day notice for travel beyond 50 kilometers of Kabul or for overnight stays.
Albania.-Seldom are U.S. citizens permitted to visit Albania. When they are, travel is severely limited. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Albania.
Algeria.--Relations are imposed on the travel of all foreign officials within the country.
Benin.-Foreign residents are not permitted to leave their areas of residency without prior approval of the Government.
Bulgaria.—The Bulgarian Government has declared certain frontier zones closed to all foreign diplomatic personnel, including those of other Socialist countries, ostensibly for reasons of security. Some of these areas are open to foreign tourists.
Burma.-All tourists in Burma receive visas valid for a maximum of 7 days and subject to travel restrictions. Only Rangoon, Mandalay, and Taunggyi are normally accessible to travelers. These restrictions are justified on the basis of security.
Burundi.-A general curfew from midnight to sunrise, Sunday through Friday, has been in effect since 1976. The travel of all people within the country is subject to limitations.
China, Peoples Republic.-Controls on travel by foreigners are freer now than previously. However, travel is still generally restricted to itineraries and schedules submitted prior to the issuance of visas.
Ethiopia.—Restrictions on the travel of U.S. diplomats are justified on the basis of the prevailing security situation, although they do not appear to be applied to members of the East bloc missions.
Guinea Bissau.--Foreign diplomats are required to request permission to travel outside of the capital city.
Iraq.—Only business visas are issued. Prior permission, requiring 6 days, must be obtained for travel outside Baghdad.
Kampuchea.-U.S. citizens are not normally permitted entry into Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia). Foreigners who have been permitted entry have been subjected to very tight travel restrictions. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Kampuchea.
Laos.-Foreign visitors to Laos must be sponsored by an official Lao body or organization, or by a foreign diplomatic mission accredited to the Government. Visitors generally must enter and leave Laos by air and may not travel outside the capital city without express permission. The Government states that this latter requirement is for the safety and convenience of foreign travelers.
Libya.—The travel of all foreign diplomats within the country is restricted. Tourists and nonofficial foreign workers are not subject to the same restrictions.
Mongolia.-U.S. citizens rarely visit Mongolia. When they are issued visas, their travel is limited to prearranged itineraries and schedules. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Mongolia.
Nepal.—Permits are required for travel to several outlying areas of the country, but they are routinely issued.
South Africa.--Travel into the 10 designated black tribes homelands or numerous black residential areas is forbidden to all foreigners and to South Africans themselves unless they legally reside in the area.
Tanzania.–Foreign diplomats must submit diplomatic notes to travel beyond a 50-mile radius of the capital city.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.—Travel of foreigners is ostensibly not permitted in about 25 percent of the area of the Soviet Union. In actuality, up to 90 percent of the country is closed to foreign travelers as a result of close control of transportation and reservations services and official denials of applications to visit allegedly open areas.
Vietnam.-Few Americans have visited Vietnam in recent years. Most such visits appear to result from invitations extended by the Vietnamese Government which set forth the purpose of the travel and areas to be visited. Travelers are usually accompanied by guides who have the final say over locations to be visited. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
Yemen, Peoples Democratic Republic (South Yemen):- All foreign travel within the country is tightly controlled. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the PDRY.