People, Travel

Tehran, Baghdad Mull Visa Waiver

Most Iraqi pilgrims visit the Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province.Most Iraqi pilgrims visit the Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province.

Iran and Iraq are discussing the waiver of visa requirements, as part of a deal to boost bilateral tourism ties.

The neighboring countries have been discussing the issue for over a year.

"There are details that need to be ironed out, but we expect the two sides to scrap the visa regime soon," Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, told ISNA.

Soltanifar has been a staunch supporter of waiving visa requirements between the two countries.

His efforts gained the support of Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani who first discussed the issue with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi last year during the 11th Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States in Baghdad and then with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri earlier this month to hammer out an agreement.

Abolishing the visa regime will significantly help boost travel between the two countries, as there are holy sites in Iran and Iraq that draw millions of pilgrims every year.

In the past few months, Iran has reciprocally waived visa requirements with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Soltanifar was recently quoted as saying that two more countries will abolish the visa regime for Iranian citizens in the coming months, one of which will most likely be Iraq.