Iran-Russia Visa-Free Deal Not Signed Yet: Spokesman

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi described reports that Iran and Russia have cancelled visa requirements between the two countries as untrue, saying a deal on visa-free package tours is yet to be signed.

Visa requirements for package tours between the two countries are going to be removed under certain conditions but the agreement on the issue has not been signed yet, he said on Monday.

The two countries are going to sign the deal in the near future, Qassemi added.

There were reports earlier on Monday that Iran and Russia have already removed visa requirements for travelers from the two countries.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, too, said on Monday that the deal has not been signed yet.

Tehran and Moscow hope to sign an inter-governmental agreement on cancelling visas for tourists who book package tours through travel agencies, she said.

According to her, visa liberalization for Russian and Iranian tourists was one of the topics which dominated Russian-Iranian consultations on consular matters held by the heads of appropriate foreign ministry departments on November 21-22.

“Their outcome raises hopes that a Russian-Iranian inter-governmental agreement on cancelling visas for travelers who purchase packaged tours may be signed soon,” Zakharova said.

“During the consultations, the parties reviewed the draft’s text clause-by-clause. We are planning to work over the document jointly with Russian agencies in the next two or three months before the government issues a directive on this matter,” the Russian diplomat explained.

The sides agreed to examine the possibility of using a mechanism of direct invitations for arranging package tours for Russian and Iranian businessmen. It gives legal entities, companies and the heads of enterprises the right to invite foreign business partners independently.

“We are planning to make the said agreement a supplement to the existing Russian-Iranian inter-governmental agreement on simplifying reciprocal travel for certain categories of Russian and Iranian citizens,” Zakharova said, according to Tass.

“We believe that these steps will add momentum to Russian-Iranian relations and will, first and foremost, create favorable conditions for enhancing business cooperation and tourism, and expanding reciprocal understanding of the centuries-old cultural traditions of Russia and Iran.”

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