29 May 2012

Moscow hoping to abandon Russia visa requirement

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As Russian and British diplomats meet to discuss international relations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has hinted that he hopes the country will eventually abandon the Russia visa requirement for British tourists.

Russia visa

British tourists currently require a Russia visa to visit the country

Britons visiting Russia currently require a Russia visa regardless of the purpose of their visit; the current tourist visa requirement allows British citizens to enter Russia for no more than 30 days. However, Mr Lavrov has said he hopes to discuss eventually abandoning visa requirements altogether.

"We have from day to day to ratify the agreement on visa facilitation with the US and will speak about the transition to a visa-free regime," said Mr Lavrov. "I am sure that in future we will be able to talk about it with our British partners."

Mr Lavrov was speaking during a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was in Moscow to discuss the ongoing situation in Syria.

Relations between Russia and Britain have remained tense after the assassination of former KGB spy and Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in London in 2006.

Russia and Britain had previously discussed a visa free relationship but talks were halted after Britain tried to extradite Russian Andrei Lugovi who was suspected of being involved in Litvinenko's death. The diplomatic relationship between the two was soured when Moscow refused to hand him over.

However, it would appear the relationship is beginning to improve after Mr Hague and Mr Lavrov agreed to pursue more meetings and had signed an agreement to cooperate on military and political issues as well as the situation in the Middle East, human rights and particularly visa policy.

"There is a possibility to improve the existing dialogue mechanisms, and we have decided that our deputies will regularly meet and discuss strategic issues, including military and political ones" said Mr Lavrov, who admitted that while the relationship is improving, the two ministers had not yet progressed much in simplifying visa policy.


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