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Justice Minister Meets Iranian Ambassador After Row over Controversial Remarks

Georgian Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, met on March 10 with Iranian ambassador in Tbilisi Abbas Talebifar.

The meeting came a day after the Iranian embassy released a statement criticizing Tsulukiani for “unprofessional and unthoughtful” remarks, which have also been slammed by some rights groups as “xenophobic.” In a written statement the Justice Ministry responded that the Iranian embassy’s reaction to Tsulukiani’s comments on tightened visa and migration regulations was “regrettable.”

Tsulukiani said after the meeting with the Iranian diplomat that the embassy’s statement was not the main topic of discussion.

“I invited Mr. Ambassador. Of course yesterday’s statement of the Iranian embassy was not the topic of my interest – the embassy itself will probably comment on that. It was only noted at the meeting that original text of the statement looks different from its Georgian version,” she said without elaboration. The embassy released its statement in Georgian.

“The main subject of our interest today was those two hundred residence permits for work that have been issued to the Iranian citizens since September 1 [when tightened visa and migration regulations went into force]; [residence permits] issued to about 40 students; 61 families reunited and 2,600 visas issued to the Iranian citizens since September 1,” Tsulukiani said in a video recording released by the Justice Ministry after the meeting.

“This work will continue, because friendly relations between the two countries are above all the other issues,” she added.

The Iranian embassy has not yet commented.

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