Iran, Iraq agree to build Shalamche-Basra railway, offer free visas

The agreements come on day one of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s state visit to Iraq. The railroad is expected to boost mutual trade between the two neighbours.

12 March 2019
ID : 11879
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The agreements come on day one of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s state visit to Iraq. The railroad is expected to boost mutual trade between the two neighbours.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, (left), signs MoUs with his Iraqi counterpart Mohamed Ali Hakim on Monday. (Photo: president.ir)

Iran and Iraq signed five Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), including a document on building a cross-border railway, on the first day of Iranian president’s landmark visit to the neighbouring country.

The MoUs were signed during a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in the Iraqi presidential palace on Monday evening. They come on the first day of Rouhani’s visit to Iraq that is meant to expand business and political ties between the two nations.

One of the documents lays the groundwork for the construction of a 35-kilometer cross-border railroad that connects Iranian town of Shalamche to the Iraqi city of Basra. The railway is meant to accelerate bilateral trade that both governments are seeking to reach. They are targetting a 20-billion-dollar trade record in future.

A second MoU was signed to ease visas for businessmen and women from both countries. Later, Iranian president annoucned that Iraq has agreed to issue visas for Iranians free of charge. 

“Iran proposed that Iraqi visas [for Iranians] be eliminated [altogether] however the Iraqi side requested it to remain,” President Rouhani said on Monday during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi after the two signed five MoUs.

“It was agreed that Iraqi visa remain but free of charge,” Rouhani told reporters.

Also, Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for communications and information Parviz Esmaeili tweeted that visas for pilgrims and tourists from both countries “will be free of charge by the end of March.'

At the end of all bilateral meetings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced railway construction and no-fee visas as well as several other agreements in his tweet. 

A screenshot of Iran FM Zarif's tweet about day 1 of high-level Iranian visit to Iraq

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