Iran, Iraq agree to waive travel visas for nationals
Announcement came during Iraqi prime minister’s visit to Tehran
Iran and Iraq on Sunday agreed to abolish mandatory travel visas for their nationals, in a significant confidence-building measure between the two neighbors.
The announcement came during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's visit to Tehran, where he held wide-ranging talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi.
"Visa waiver for citizens of both countries was the prime minister’s good news,” Raeisi said at a joint presser, without giving any timeline.
The issue had come up for discussion many times between the officials of the two countries in recent years.
The announcement came a day after the Iraqi government announced that 60,000 Iranian pilgrims would be allowed to embark on the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage in Iraq, starting in two weeks.
Flanked by Kadhimi, Raeisi said the Iraqi premier has promised to "accept as many as possible" pilgrims for Arbaeen, while acknowledging the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two top officials also agreed to develop Shalamcheh-Basra railway corridor, which they said will be "done quickly".
Raeisi said the development of relations between the two countries can "strengthen the role of Tehran and Baghdad in regional, global and international relations".
Kadhimi, for his part, said Iraq attaches importance to expanding ties with Tehran.
According to sources, the issue of potential normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia also figured in the discussions. Iraq has played a mediator in multiple rounds of Tehran-Riyadh talks in Baghdad recently.
Kadhimi became the first high-ranking foreign official to visit Tehran since the new government took over last month.
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