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Lavrov: Visa-free travel in 2011

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Russia and the EU will move closer to introducing a visa-free travel regime this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "We have an agreement to compile a list of problems to be solved before introducing a visa-free regime. We expect to deal with those issues by the end of this year, or at least to be actively dealing with them," Lavrov said.

Lavrov stressed that he saw no technical or organizational hindrances for the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU. He also urged that the issue not be politicized by Russia's European partners. Russia and the EU in their joint summit in December agreed to take concrete steps towards visa-free travel, BarentsObserver reported.

The Kremlin has made visa-free travel between Russia and the EU a foreign policy priority. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly declared his country's readiness to scrap the visa regime with the EU. However, the EU has been deadlocked over the issue amid concerns that a visa-free regime could lead to a rise in crime and illegal immigration.



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