Iraq's parliament has approved a bill exempting Iranian nationals from visa fees in an effort to boost economic and tourism ties between the two countries, the National reported.
“We want Iraq to be part of the solution to the challenges facing the region, and are working to create an environment that rejects conflict, and instead fosters cooperation between the countries of the region,” Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi said during a press conference on Tuesday evening.
It is unclear when the new policy will come into action.
Tehran has increasingly cozied up to Baghdad, in search of its neighbor's support as it faces a hefty US embargo, following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
In a phone call on Wednesday, Abd al-Mahdi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discussed the importance of strengthening security and economic ties.
The visa condition will come into place only if Iran reciprocates.
Rouhani accompanied by a high ranking political and economic delegation arrived in Iraq earlier this month for his first ever official visit.
During his three day visit, the Iranian leader announced that visa exemptions for Iraqi nationals who intend to visit Iran would begin on April 1.
Millions of Iranian pilgrims travel to Iraq every year to visit the southern city of Karbala for the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the third Shiite Imam, Hussein.
More than 80 per cent of foreign visitors to Najaf are from Iran.
But since the imposition of US sanctions the number of people travelling from Iran fell by 30 per cent in the first nine months of 2018, to 5.9 million, according to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation.
The Iranian president said he wanted deeper political economic ties with Baghdad, while Abdul Mahdi stressed that Iraq was aware of the difficulties Iran was facing.
Far from the bloody eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the two countries are mutually reliant on each other in more ways than one.
Rouhani’s visit resulted in the signing of several economic agreements, the waiving of visa fees between the two countries and a significant expansion of bilateral ties.