Russia’s Visa Deal with EU Delayed by Official Passports Issue

MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) – The signing of an agreement between Russia and the European Union to ease visa restrictions has been delayed due to differences over Russian officials’ passports, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said on Friday.

Moscow wants the EU to cancel visas for officials holding special biometric passports. Such documents are issued to employees of various state bodies, such as the presidential administration, the parliament, the Supreme Court and state corporations who travel on an official assignment.

The deputy foreign minister said it was too early to speak about signing the agreement, but “we expect that our partners would hear Russia, especially on the problem of official passports.”

Meshkov said Moscow still sees lifting visa restrictions for all Russian citizens as its foremost priority.

“We strive to make our discussions of a visa-free regime as intense as possible, so that the final agreement is ready by 2014,” he said.

The visa cancellation issue is due to be discussed at a Moscow meeting between Russian Ambassador at Large Anvar Azimov and a European Comission delegation next month.


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