U.S. may deny visas to Central American officials accused of corruption

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Austin, Blinken speak to National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States may deny visas to current or former Guatemalan, Honduran or Salvadoran government officials believed to be responsible for undermining democracy or the rule of law, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

"With these restrictions, we are sending a clear message that those undermining democracy or the rule of law in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are not welcome in the United States," Blinken said in a statement.

He said a person could be designated under the policy for "acts of corruption or obstruction of democratic processes or institutions, such as subverting the integrity and independence of the judicial sector and anti-corruption prosecutors."

President Joe Biden's administration has cited corruption in the so-called Northern Triangle countries as one of the root causes, along with gang violence and poverty, of the increased flow of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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