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Iran, Russia to sign deal on visa-free package tours soon: Qassemi

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Iran and Russia are set to sign an agreement in the near future on removing visa requirements for travelers using package tours, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi says.

“Iran and Russia are due to abolish tourist visa requirements under certain conditions but they have not signed and implemented [an agreement] yet,” Qassemi told IRNA on Monday.

He dismissed media reports on Monday about the removal of visa requirements for Iranian and Russian citizens since 2017, saying they were “imprecise.”

The Iranian spokesperson said many more steps must be taken before Tehran and Moscow reach necessary agreements on the abolition of visa requirements for their citizens.

Earlier on Monday Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tehran and Moscow hope to sign an inter-governmental agreement on cancelling visa requirements for tourists who book package tours through travel agencies.

She added that senior officials at the Iranian and Russian foreign ministries held consultations on visa liberalization for the two countries’ tourists 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.

Iran and Russia have stepped up their efforts to increase tourism cooperation in recent months.

An agreement on facilitating reciprocal travel for certain categories of the Iranian and Russian citizens went into effect on February 6 which has already enabled the two counties to double the number of issued visas.

The Director of Consular Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Yevgeny Ivanov, has said that "80,000 visas were issued in the first 10 months of 2016 compared to 40,000 issued throughout the entire 2015."

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