Iran lifts visa requirement for Indian travellers

NEW DELHI | Updated: 15 December, 2023 7:32 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Iran has decided to eliminate visa requirements for Indian travellers, as per an official announcement from Tehran. India is included in a visa-exemption list alongside 32 other countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, and the UAE, according to the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA). The objective of this move, as stated by IRNA, is to facilitate the influx of tourists into Iran. Recently, India has also been included in similar visa-exemption lists by countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka, aiming to enhance tourism and trade.

The Ministry of External Affairs affirmed that India already had a visa-exemption agreement with Iran for Indian diplomats. However, this marked the first instance of Tehran extending the visa exemption to ordinary Indian passport holders.

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Iran’s Tourism Minister, Ezzatollah Zarghami, conveyed to IRNA on Wednesday that the Iranian government’s decision is twofold: attracting more visitors and combating “Iranophobia” prevalent in Western media. India and Iran share a close relationship on various fronts, with India being a major stakeholder in the Chabahar port project.

Recent developments, such as Iran’s entry into the BRICS during the Johannesburg summit in South Africa in August, also underscores the close ties between the two nations. Iran is set to officially become a BRICS member from January 1, 2024.

Despite facing verbal attacks amid the Gaza conflict, Iran hosted Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on November 26 during the 18th India-Iran Foreign Office Consultation (FOC). The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reported discussions on enhancing trade and people-to-people ties between both countries.

IRNA noted that Iran had pre-existing visa-exemption agreements with Türkiye, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Oman, China, Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria. This comprehensive list of 33 countries now reflects a significant Iranian initiative to strengthen its international ties as it approaches BRICS membership.

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