Georgia, Iran Sign Visa-Free Travel Agreement

TBILISI (Hurriyet)–Georgia and Iran signed an agreement for visa-free travel between the two countries during Iranian Foreign Minster Manouchehr Mottaki’s visit to Georgia on Wednesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Georgian counterpart Grigol Vashadze in Tbilisi on Wednesday, Iran’s top diplomat said the two countries are also determined to strengthen economic cooperation, Iran’s English-language broadcaster Press TV reported.

“We have also decided to give economic cooperation a major boost and increase trade between our two countries,” he added.

The Georgian foreign minister noted a substantial increase in mutual trade and the number of Iranian tourists visiting his country. Iran and Georgia also agreed to resume direct flights between the capitals of the two countries.

Ahead of the Iranian foreign minister’s visit Nino Kalandadze, Georgia’s deputy foreign minister, said both countries were “trying to reduce bureaucratic barriers,” the Civil Georgia website reported.

She said boosting ties with Iran was not “an irritating factor for anyone,” including for Georgia’s Western partners and in particular for the United States.

“Georgia and the United States are strategic allies; so in relationship with a third country, we [Georgia] firstly take into consideration strategic partnerships we have with our allies and especially the United States,” Kalandadze said.

During his two-day visit, Mottaki was also set to reopen an Iranian consulate in Georgia’s Black Sea resort of Batumi, which had been closed for decades.

The revival of the diplomatic post, which operated in Batumi from 1883 to 1927 “will be helpful to deepening relations in various fields between the countries,” Mottaki said.

Earlier in October the Iranian foreign minister had announced Tehran’s plans to lift visa requirements for citizens of neighboring countries, saying the move would help Iran increase interaction and communication with its neighbors.

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