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MINSK, March 1. /TASS/. The Belarusian-Russian inter-agency group will hold a meeting in the Belarusian city of Grodno on March 13-15 to consider border issues, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told reporters on Wednesday.
"On March 13-15, Grodno will host a meeting of the inter-agency group responsible for the migration situation," he said. According to Makei, the meeting’s participants need to discuss all the problems and "outline specific mechanisms for solving border issues."
The Belarusian top diplomat stressed that he did not view the border zones set up by Russia and the visa-free travel launched by Belarus as "a tragic situation." He said that countries should clarify their reasons and take steps to avoid damaging others.
As reported earlier, Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov handed down instructions to set up border zones in the regions adjacent to the Belarusian border starting from February 1. According to the FSB, the decision is aimed at ensuring the protection of the state border and preventing crimes that border agencies usually combat.
On January 9, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree allowing citizens of 80 countries, including European Union member states, the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Japan, to enter Belarus without visas for a period of no longer than five days. The visa-free entry rules took effect on February 12.
The Belarusian leader was outraged by the FSB’s decision and accused Russia of violating bilateral border agreement.
The FSB press service explained that setting up border zones on the Russian-Belarusian border would restrict neither the two countries’ citizens’ freedom of movement nor transportation of goods.
The FSB press service also said that the decision to set up border zones did not contradict Russian-Belarusian agreements.