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14,000 Iraqis travel Iran for pilgrimage

Ilam, March 22, IRNA -- Some 14,000 Iraqis crossed Mehran border into Iranian territory over the past six days to visit the country's holy and religious sites, said provincial police on Monday.

Deputy Police Chief in western Ilam Province Colonel Cheraghi said here on Monday that the Iraqis had travelled Iran for pilgrimage purposes in the new Iranian year.

Cheraghi said that 1,400 Iranian pilgrims also had in the period crossed into Iraq for pilgrimage reasons.

Iran, Iraq to sign deal for pilgrim exchanges

Najaf, Iraq, March 22, IRNA -- Rotating Head of Iraqi Governing Council Mohammad Bahr al-Uloom said on Sunday that Iran and Iraq will soon sign a deal for Iranians' pilgrimage visits to Iraqi holy sites.

Bahr al-Uloom told IRNA here on Sunday that the deal is in stage of drafting and would be in effect once is approved and signed by Iranian officials.

He recalled his recent visit to Iran, where he and Iranian officials discussed guaranteeing safety of Iranians, travelling to Iraq on pilgrimage visits.

Bahr al-Uloom said Iraqi officials would enter talks with Iran on Tehran's contribution to Iraq reconstruction after handover of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.

He said Iran had been among countries at Madrid conference to volunteer contribution to Iraq reconstruction.

As for recent deadly blasts in Iraqi cities of Kazemein and Karbala, Bahr al-Uloom said terrorist groups, affiliated to Zarqawi, had been behind the incidents.

5,000 pilgrims cross Khosrawi border into Iraq daily - police

Kermanshah, March 21, IRNA -- Five thousand pilgrims cross Iran's western Khosrawi border into Iraq daily for pilgrimage visit, said provincial police commander General Javad Hamed here on Sunday.

Hamed told IRNA that the pilgrimage visits from Iran to Iraqi holy sites resumed late last year (ended on March 19) as Iran's Interior Ministry received assurances that there would be no restrictions for such visits.

He said 3,500 people cross into Iraq a day via Mehran border in western Ilam Province and 1,500 others via Shalamcheh border for the purpose.

He added that Khosrawi border, as a big passenger terminal in the Middle East, has the capacity to handle visits by 5,000 people from Iran to Iraq a day.

... Payvand News - 3/22/04 ... --

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