WASHINGTON, March 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order banning nationals of six Muslim countries to enter the United States, excluding Iraq from the list of a previous ban.
"Each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones," the order said.
Nationals of the six countries who are outside the United States will be banned from entering the country, except those who are lawful permanent U.S. residences or fit other criteria, according to the new rule.
Notably missing from the list is Iraq, which has been subject to a similar ban imposed in January.
"The close cooperative relationship between the United States and the democratically elected Iraqi government, the strong United States diplomatic presence in Iraq, the significant presence of United States forces in Iraq, and Iraq's commitment to combat ISIS justify different treatment for Iraq," the document said.
The Iraqi government welcomed Washington's decision not to ban its citizens, saying "the decision is an important step in the right direction, it consolidates the strategic alliance between Baghdad and Washington in many fields, and at their forefront war on terrorism."
A review conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will determine after 70 days the order has went into effect whether any countries should be added or removed from the list.
In addition to the travel ban, the order also suspended granting refugee status for 120 days after the effective date. Syrian refugees, which were singled out in the original version as being banned indefinitely, will be given the same treatment with refugees of other origins.
The new order was signed in observation of court rulings and to avoid further litigation, the order said.
In a joint press conference after Trump signed the document, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all hailed the new executive order as an important step toward enhancing security of the country.
"This order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends," Tillerson said.
"We cannot compromise our nation's security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly or when those governments actively support terrorism," said Sessions.
"We must undertake a rigorous review and are undertaking a rigorous review of our immigration vetting programs to increase our confidence in the decisions we make relative to visitors and immigrants that travel to the United States," echoed Kelly.
Trump has signed a similar executive order on Jan. 27, which imposed a ban on nationals of seven Muslim countries to enter the United States for 90 days, refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.
A federal judge of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington later slapped a nationwide restraining order on the travel ban, and the ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.