Iran proposes visa-free travel among ECO member states

January 26, 2020 - 20:19

TEHRAN – Iranian tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan on Saturday called for the Economic Cooperation Organization to consider granting visa-free travel for member states.

He put forward the proposal during a meeting with Tajik Ambassador to Tehran Nizam al-Din Zahedi, saying “My suggestion is that ECO members adopt a common visa policy because there is a great deal of cultural commonalities between these countries that brings them [closer] together.”

Aiming for the sustainable economic development of its member states and the region as a whole, ECO was established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey and was later joined by seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

ECO region with an area of more than 8 million square kilometers stretching from central to the south and south-west Asia and a population of around 450 million inhabitants is well-known for its natural beauties, as well as a diversity of its historical-cultural heritage.

“[Together] with the efforts of the presidents of the two countries, the level of relations between Iran and Tajikistan is currently improving, and given the great cultural commonality between Iran and Tajikistan, tourism relations between the two sides should be promoted to the highest [possible] levels. I believe that visa requirements should be waived [mutually] to make travel conditions easier for tourists between the two countries,” Mounesan said, CHTN reported.

“The first step towards canceling visas among Iran and Tajikistan or between the ECO countries could be visa-cancelation for group travelers.”

He reminded that Iran currently issues airport visas to passport holders from 90 countries.

“We are ready to share our experiences with Tajikistan in the fields of [archaeological] excavations and restoration of [historical] monuments, developing joint dossiers for World Heritage registrations, and handicrafts,” Mounesan stressed.

The Tajik envoy for his part welcomed deepening mutual ties in the aforementioned realms, noting that there are many grounds for enhancing tourism between the two countries, because Iran and Tajikistan share many cultural, historical and religious commonalities, and people of the two nations also enjoy common language and dialects.”

During the meeting, the Iranian deputy tourism minister Vali Teymouri, noted that he will follow up on Mounesan’s proposal at the [upcoming] ECO summit both for a visa-waiver between ECO member states and visa-free travel for group travelers to the ECO region.

In April 2018, during the 23rd meeting of ECO foreign ministers in Tajikistan, the rotating presidency of ECO was handed to the Islamic Republic of Iran for a three-year term.

AFM/MG

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