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U.S. Rejects Austrian Request to Lift Waldheim from Watch List

The U.S. State Department has rejected a request from the Austrian Foreign Ministry to remove President Kurt Waldheim’s name from the “watch list” of persons barred from entering the United States, a State Department official said last week.

The Austrian ambassador to Washington, Friedrich Hoess, was instructed to request Waldheim’s removal from the watch list, which bars those suspected of persecuting people on racial or religious grounds from entering the United States.

The diplomatic note was sent to the State Department in early June. The State Department official said there had been “no change” in the U.S. position.

An Austrian Embassy spokesperson originally would not comment on the report of the request, which originated in Vienna. Later, the embassy confirmed it had sent a note to the State Department affirming its belief that Waldheim’s name on the watch list contravenes international law.

Waldheim was placed on the watch list in April 1987, following a year of disclosures about his activities during World War II, which he had concealed during the decade he served as secretary-general of the United Nations.

During the war, Waldheim was a lieutenant and intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht, or regular German army, serving in the Balkans, where reprisal killings and deportations were carried out against Jews and partisans.

A file found in 1986 in the United Nations War Crimes Archives lists Waldheim as wanted for murder and says he should stand trial for murder and putting hostages to death.

The order to bar Waldheim was placed jointly by the State and Justice departments.

Neal Sher, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, said, “The passage of time does not have any effect on the legitimacy and importance of this decision.”

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