11 March 2011

Russia lobbies to be added to US ESTA program

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During a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden in Moscow, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that visa-free travel between Russia and the US would be a historic breakthrough for their bilateral relations.


Russia hopes to be added to the US ESTA program, which would allow Russians to travel to the US without a visa.

Russia has been already negotiating a visa-free travel with the EU and hopes to be added to the ESTA program, which allows nationals of participating countries to enter the US for tourism purposes using a simple online application.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed that his country and the United States abolish visas between them, and while US Vice President Joe Biden responded positively to the proposal.

Most analysts have said that the implementation of a visa-free relationship between the United States and Russia would be a complicated and protracted process. For example, Russia and the European Union have been in negotiations for such a relationship since 2002.

"If Russia and the United States agree on visa-free travel before Russia and the European Union make a similar decision, that would be an historic step," Putin told Biden.

"Such a step would shatter old stereotypes between Russia and USA. (By doing that) we would turn an important page referring to our past, and start (our relations) from scratch," Putin said. 

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