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U.S. Congress Set To Pass Visa Curbs On Visitors To Iraq, Iran

A massive spending bill headed toward approval in the U.S. Congress this week includes new restrictions on travelers to the United States who have visited Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan.

The measure announced by congressional leaders on December 16 would require visitors from 38 countries whose citizens are not usually required to have visas for short visits, including much of Western Europe, to obtain visas if they had been to the four countries, deemed to be terrorist hotspots, since March 2011.

It also would also require countries participating in the visa-free program to share information with U.S. authorities about suspected terrorists.

The bill already overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House and President Obama has promised to sign it.

The measure gained popularity in the wake of terrorist attacks last month in Paris, where some of the assailants were French and Belgian nationals who could have traveled unrestricted to the United States to carry out similar attacks.

The Senate has not previously voted on the measure. But both houses are expected to approve the massive spending bill before Congress adjourns for its Christmas recess.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP