As millions of Iranians are expected to travel to Iraq for upcoming religious rituals, Iran’s Foreign Ministry says the country regrets Baghdad’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 for the past four years been proposing to Iraq to relieve the visa regime, 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 traveling to Iraq to mark the upcoming Arba’een, the 40th day since the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.
Qashqavi urged the public against departing for Iraq without passports and visas.
The official, meanwhile, said the Foreign Ministry would welcome the 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 traveling to the country, and said the Islamic Republic rewarded the gesture by adopting the same measure.