Iran, India discuss visa extension

Mohammad Javad Zarif

Mohammad Javad Zarif  

Talks held in the wake of sanctions

Two days after the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, India held the 11th Consular Committee Meeting with Iran on Thursday which dealt with smoothing visa and legal matters essential for bilateral ties.

Both sides went ahead with the talks, even as Saudi Arabia blamed Tehran for a drone attack on Saudi oil installations on May 14.

However, indicating a balancing act, India issued a statement on Thursday, “strongly” condemning the attack.

“Both sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including early conclusion of Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on civil and commercial matters, extending longer duration of e-Visa for each others’ nationals on reciprocity and visa facilitation for greater people-to-people contact,” a press release issued by the External Affairs Ministry said.

Iran at present provides visa-on-arrival to Indian travellers which is given as a paper visa. Iranian visas are also given to Indians online and through missions.

Joint Secretary in charge of consular affairs Amit Narang from India and Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Director General of Consular Affairs of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led the two delegations at the talks here.

Travel concerns

Iran has been conducting talks with various countries for bilateral visa arrangements to help facilitate smooth travel as the country is facing U.S. government-backed international sanctions that can potentially affect the free movement of business travellers. India offers e-visa facilities to Iranian travellers. It is understood that Iran wants longer duration e-visas from India.

India seemed to be carefully balancing its moves with the Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, and issued a statement in support of Saudi concerns after talks with Iran. “We strongly condemn the drone attack on oil installations in Saudi Arabia. We reiterate our resolve to fight terrorism,” the official spokesperson said.

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