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EU FMs to consider relations with RF, easing of visa regime

March 11, 2013, 4:26 UTC+3

The Foreign ministers of the European Union, at a meeting of the EU Council here on Monday

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BRUSSELS, March 11 (Itar-Tass) - The Foreign ministers of the European Union (EU), at a meeting of the EU Council here on Monday, will consider relations with Russia, including a further easing of visa arrangements, an official in the press service of the EU Council told Itar-Tass. The ministerial discussion will be held in the run-up to a meeting of the EU Heads of State and Government, due to take place in the Belgian capital from March 14 to 15. Moscow-Brussels relations will be also one of subjects of discussion at the summit.

The EU summit will also deal with three main vectors of relations with Russia: visas and mobility of citizens, trade and economic relations, and human rights-related matters.

The talks on a supplemented agreement on the streamlining of visa arrangements between Russia and the EU "are nearing completion", the press service official said.

"The supplemented agreement will widen the number of categories of citizens for a simplified obtaining of visas, including multiple ones. The categories will include, specifically, members of families residing in various countries, and members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)," the press service official pointed out. According to existing information, the document is also to seal visa-free arrangements for travel by the holders of service passports.

Meanwhile, the EU Council refrains from comments on prospects for the introduction of visa-free arrangements for brief trips of all citizens without exception.

As far as trade is concerned, bilateral goods turnover continued to grow, both in export and import, despite all political differences, sectoral trading conflicts, and the general downturn in the European economy. Russia ranks third among the EU's trading partners after the United States and China, wheeas EU countries in 2012 accounted for over a half of Russia's exporet and 43 percent of import.

The traditional themes such as "the position of NGOs, the situation around individual human rights campaigners and oppositionists, and an insufficiently thorough probe into a number of socially significant judicial cases" will be discussed at the EU summit.

All that discussion will be held ahead of a regular joint session of the European Commission and the Russian government in Moscow on March 20.

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