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MOSCOW, November 10 /TASS/. Russia is still ready to negotiate the visa cancellation issue with the United States but it is hardly possible at the moment in view of the US sanctions policy, Yevgeny Ivanov, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Consular Department, told TASS on Thursday.
"We are ready for such talks in principle. However, it is hardly possible in context of US sanctions policy (against Russia). We are ready to switch over to visa-free trips with other countries along with the United States," Ivanov said when asked if Russia and the United States could cancel visas for trips not longer than 90 days on condition of reciprocity.
He said that Russia and the United States issued multiple three-year visas to each other’s nationals under the Russia-US visa agreement, which is in effect at the moment.
"More than 90% of Russians applying for a US visa receive multiple-entry visas valid for three years," Ivanov clarified. He added that about 70% of Russian visas issued to US nationals are also multiple-entry and are valid for three years, as well. "This agreement has been operating successfully," the diplomat concluded.
In 2011, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered US Vice President Joseph Biden (who was on a visit to Russia) to begin visa cancellation talks. Putin said it would have been historic if Russia and the United States had agreed on a visa-free regime for one other. Biden then described Putin’s initiative as a "good idea".