EU, Russia Close to Deal on Visa Liberalization

MOSCOW, May 10 (RIA Novosti) – Negotiators are in the final stage on reaching an agreement on the liberalization of visa regime between Russia and the European Union, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“The issue is now in the hands of the negotiators from the European Commission that is cooperating with our negotiators. They are in the final stage of agreeing on the wording,” Lavrov told journalists after informal talks with his German and Polish counterparts.

He said Russia “will be ready to sign” the agreement as soon as the document is approved and the respective domestic procedures in Russia and the European Union are completed.

“I will not be guessing about the terms now,” Lavrov said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski said on Friday they favor the idea of mutually scrapping visa requirements for Russian and EU nationals.

Moscow has made visa-free travels with EU a foreign policy priority. Russia submitted a draft deal on scrapping the visa regime to the EU at a Russia-EU summit in 2010, but the EU has been reluctant to move ahead with the issue amid concerns that it could lead to a rise in crime and illegal immigration.


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