Austrian President Kurt Waldheim has tried repeatedly to get the U.S. government to lift its ban on his entry to the United States, a Justice Department official revealed today.
Waldheim has been rebuffed because of his alleged role in "Nazi-sponsored persecution," said the official, Neal M. Sher.
The U.S. government in April, 1987, put Waldheim, an officer in the German army during World War II, on a "watch list" of people denied entry into the country. The ban followed allegations that Waldheim was involved in Nazi atrocities during the war.
Waldheim, who was elected president of Austria in 1986, has staunchly denied any wrongdoing.
Sher, head of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, told a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Berlin that there are no plans to lift the ban on Waldheim.
"Kurt Waldheim had engaged in Nazi-sponsored persecution," Sher said in a speech. "It is also well-known that Waldheim has tried hard and often to be removed from the list" of people denied entry to the United States, he added.
"But all such approaches to our government have been rebuffed. He will remain persona non grata. "