05:33 GMT29 January 2020
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    The recommendations bring Iran closer to the US’s own advisory regarding travel to the Islamic Republic, with the US State Department urging Americans not to visit Iran, even though most of the world recognizes the country to be as safe a destination for travel as most European states.

    The Iranian Foreign Ministry has issued a travel advisory warning Iranian nationals against visiting the United States, citing dangers allegedly including the threat of arbitrary and lengthy detention.

    “Iranian citizens, particularly elites and scientists, are urged not to travel to the United States, even to take part in scientific conferences, and even if they have an invitation,” the advisory, published on the Foreign Ministry’s website, notes.

    The Ministry cites “America’s cruel and one-sided laws toward Iranians, especially Iranian elites,” as well as an alleged threat of “arbitrary and lengthy detention in completely inhumane conditions.”

    The advisory is one of several others on the Foreign Ministry’s website, including an advisory urging Iranians planning pilgrimages to holy shrines in Iraq to postpone travel, and for Iranian nationals visiting France to exercise caution or cancel travel altogether amid violent protests in that country.

    The warning brings Iran’s advisory status closer to that of the US vis-à-vis Iran. The US State Department urges Americans not to travel to Iran, citing the supposed “very high risk” of “kidnapping, arrest, [and] detention of US citizens.”

    Iran is one of more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Bolivia, the Central African Republic and Burkina Faso which the State Department recommends avoiding. However, global travel risk consultants consider the Islamic Republic as a ‘low risk’ country that is as safe for travelers as most of Europe, including France, Germany and the UK.

    Over the weekend, Iran and the US hammered out a prisoner swap deal in which US-held Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani was exchanged for Chinese-American Princeton scholar Xiyue Wang. Wang was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran in 2017. Soleimani, a prominent stem cell expert, was detained in the US in 2018, allegedly for trying to export biological materials to Iran in violation of US sanctions. He was never formally charged. Soleimani accused US authorities of deeming him a terrorist during his detention.

    Earlier in the week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran was prepared for a “comprehensive prisoner exchange” with the US, adding that the ball was now “in the US’ court.”

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