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EU Threatens US with New Visa Restrictions

The European Commission is threatening to retaliate against the United States in January, unless Washington grants citizens of all EU member-countries visa-free entry to the United States.

A commission statement Wednesday said there has been "no tangible progress" on the issue with U.S. negotiators. Citizens of 12 EU countries are still required to obtain visas when entering U.S. territory.

The statement said the commission will propose restoring visa requirements January 1 for U.S. citizens holding diplomatic or other official passports.

Most older EU states remain a part of the current U.S. waiver program. But citizens of newer states, most of them former communist countries, and those of Greece, still must obtain visas before entering the United States.

Earlier this year, top EU leaders complained that U.S. officials are circumventing the EU by attempting to reach separate visa deals with individual EU countries.

The complaints centered on a preliminary U.S. deal in February with the Czech Republic. Under the agreement, Czech citizens would be granted visa-free travel to the United States, in return for more detailed Czech information on airline passengers bound for U.S. destinations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.