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Iran 'Proposes Visa-Free Travel' For Tajiks

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry says Iran has officially proposed introducing visa-free travel between the two countries, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Spokesman Davlat Nazriev told RFE/RL that the issue would be discussed on May 8 and that Dushanbe was expected to accept the proposal.

Nazriev said Hassan Qashqavi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for consular affairs, is to take part in the talks.

Dushanbe-based analyst Qosim Bekmuhammad says that whenever the idea of visa-free travel with an Islamic country is under consideration, some people worry -- unduly, he says -- that it might give an opportunity to Islamic extremists.

Suhrob Sharifov, the head of the Center for Strategic Studies affiliated with the Tajik president's office, says that he understands security concerns, but that the development of cultural and scientific ties should take precedence.

Similar proposals have been made several times in recent years, but Tajikistan has only agreed to visa-free travel for diplomatic passport holders and other people traveling on state business, so-called service passports holders.