France says it will double the visas available for Iranians in 2017, in what appears to be a response to US President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban order which has targeted Iranians – as well as nationals from six other Muslim countries.
The visiting Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a speech to the French expatriate community in Tehran that the US should avoid any move that would promote discrimination against nationals of other countries – what he suggested Trump’s order would lead to.
"The welcoming of refugees is a duty and question of solidarity," Ayrault said. "Terrorism doesn't have a nationality and discrimination is not a response."
The measure also comes as France seeks to deepen bilateral ties with Iran after the lifting of Iranian sanctions in 2015, AFP reported.
France issued about 40,000 visas to Iranians in 2016, the news agency quoted an unnamed French diplomatic source as saying, adding that the visas would cover tourism, students and work.
Trump in an executive order issued on January 27 blocked the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen into the United States for 90 days. It also suspended entry of all refugees for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.
This provoked an immediate reaction from Iran with the country’s Foreign Ministry pledging a response in kind.
Ayrault arrived in Tehran on Monday heading a senior politico-economic delegation.
During his two-day stay, the French foreign minister plans to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.