Medvedev, Obama to discuss easing visa regime for Russians visiting U.S.

The easing of visa restrictions for Russian citizens traveling to the United States will be a focus during talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in France’s Deauville in May.

During a meeting with residents of Russia’s Siberian city of Irkutsk on Sunday, Medvedev said he had sent Obama a letter with the relevant request and “intended to discuss it seriously.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed abolishing visas for Russian and U.S. citizens during a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Moscow in March.

In mid-April, Michael McFaul, a top national security aide at the White House, said Washington hoped to conclude a new visa agreement with Russia and took the issue “seriously.”

On Putin’s proposal, McFaul said the prime minister “had joked” when he suggested that the visas could be scrapped. He said a new agreement would not include a visa-free regime, but would be an improvement from what exists between the two countries today.

Currently, the issuing of U.S. visas for Russian citizens is a long and complicated process, which many Russian tourists and businessmen have complained of.

Russia is also pushing the European Union on abolishing visas for Russians, but the talks have so far yielded no significant results.

IRKUTSK, April 18 (RIA Novosti)

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