Iran official regrets Iraq’s refusal to remove visa regime

Press TV – As millions of Iranians are expected to travel to Iraq for religious rituals, Iran’s Foreign Ministry says the country regrets the neighbor’s decision to retain the standing visa restriction between the two sides.

Hassan Qashqavi, the deputy foreign minister for consular, parliamentary, and expatriates’ affairs, said the Islamic Republic has been proposing to Iraq to relieve the visa regime for the past four years, Tasnim News Agency reported on Monday.

“Unfortunately, for reasons that are respectable for us, the Iraqi government has no decision to lift the visa restriction,” he said.

Some media outlets, the official complained, were encouraging people to set out for the pilgrimage without obtaining visas in advance by making false claims about the standing travel arrangements between the countries.

Ahad Azadi-Khah, the spokesman for Parliament’s Cultural Committee, recently predicted that around four million Iranians would be travelling to Iraq to mark the upcoming Arba’een, the 40th day since the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.

File photo of pilgrims partaking in the Arba’een procession in Iraq

Qashqavi urged the public against departing for Iraq without passports and visas.

The official, meanwhile, said the Foreign Ministry would welcome elimination of visa requirements with whatever country. He cited the example of Serbia, which earlier in the year, stopped requiring Iranians to obtain visas before travelling to the country, and said the Islamic Republic rewarded the gesture by taking the same measure on Serbians.