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Serbia abolishes visa-free travel with Iran over EU pressure

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has abolished vise-free travel with Iran apparently in response to European Union pressure after the system was abused by migrants trying to reach the bloc.

More than 15,000 Iranians have visited Serbia since visas were abolished last August. Many have moved on toward Western Europe rather than return home.

Local media have said that direct flights connecting Belgrade and Tehran have been coming in full but returning empty. Officials have said several hundred Iranians also have sought asylum in Serbia.

Serbia’s state television said Thursday the government made the decision to abolish the free travel regime at a session earlier this week.

EU officials reportedly have been considering canceling visa-free entry for Serbia’s citizens unless the Balkan country reintroduces visas for Iranians. Serbia is an EU membership candidate.