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MOSCOW, January 16 (Itar-Tass) —— Moscow welcomed the U.S. decision to extend the visa-free travel regime to trips to Guam by Russian citizens.
“We regard the decision of the American authorities to extend the visa-free travel regime for trips to Guam to Russian citizens from January 15 as a positive step helping broader contacts between our countries,” the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, January 16.
“Now Russians can travel yet another non-mainland U.S. territory along with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for up to 45 days if they have a return ticket with a fixed date,” the ministry said.
“The new rules for entering the Mariana archipelago for tourists and representatives of business circles is consistent with the spirit of the joint statement on visa issues by Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama adopted in Deauville and the recent Russian-U.S. agreement on the facilitation of visa formalities,” the ministry said.
The ministry said the decision was “inspiring” for “further liberalisation of mutual trips for Russian and U.S. citizens”.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Ann Stock expressed hope earlier that the visa agreement with Russia will enter into force without delay.
Stock said when in Moscow in that Russia and the United States had signed a historic visa agreement that concerns both tourist and business visas. Visas will be multiple entry ones and issued for up to three years.
She expressed confidence that the agreement would be endorsed shortly.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July that the agreement would “pave the way to a visa-free regime between our countries. We can see that there are possibilities for moving forward to this goal.”
Lavrov said earlier that the agreement would be fully ready by the end of December 2011.
The agreement concerns the issuance of non-immigrant business, tourist, private and humanitarian visas to the Russian Federation, and for business and tourist visas to the United States, as well as short-term official travel visas to both counties in keeping with the joint statement issued during the meeting of President Obama and President Medvedev in Deauville, France on May 26, 2011.
This agreement will facilitate travel between our two countries and establish stronger ties between our people. The agreement benefits the largest segments of our travelling Americans and Russians - business travellers and tourists, travelling both as individuals and in groups, by granting as a rule, on a reciprocal basis, multiple-entry visas valid for 36 months.
The agreement also streamlines the visa issuance process by reducing the documentation required. These new visa validity periods will allow for expanded contacts and promote greater mutual understanding between our societies.
The agreement will go into effect after an exchange of diplomatic notes in Moscow.