Lavrov declares progress at visa negotiations with European Union.

12/7 Tass 446

WASHINGTON DC, July 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has affirmed significant progress at the visa negotiations with the European Union.

“Negotiations on visa-free travel are progressing. There is a list of measures, which must be taken. The list is coordinated at 99%,” he told U.S. political experts at the Russian embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday.

The minister hopes that all problems in the new visa agreement with the EU will be fully settled after Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The European Commission said earlier that the list of measures might be given an official approval at the EU-Russia summit in the end of this year but noted that it was premature to say when visa-free travel might come into effect.

The document, which paves the way to the drafting of an agreement on visa-free travel, consists of four parts: namely, the protection of documents, including biometric information, migration and border control, the prevention of transboundary terrorism and crime and other issues, such as human rights cooperation with the Council of Europe, a representative of the Russian delegation to the European Union told Itar-Tass.

Russia and the European Union have been negotiating visa-free travel for more than a decade. The then chair of the European Commission said in 2003 that the goal might be achieved by 2008 but the deadline is still to be set.

Russian authorities said they were prepared for enacting visa-free travel as soon as the EU was prepared.

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