Russia, EU to exchange missions of experts on visa issue

European Union experts will visit Russia for the first time in late September to assess the progress Moscow has made in its preparations for the talks on scrapping visas.

"We are getting ready for the next and very important stage in the joint work. Experts will be sent to EU countries and to Russia. The first such EU and European Commission mission is to arrive in Russia on September 24-27 ahead of a Permanent Partnership Council meeting in Nicosia as part of the first set of joint steps on the protection of documents, including the biometric data," The Russian Foreign Ministry's special envoy Anvar Azimov told Interfax.

The Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council on freedom, security and justice will hold a ministerial meeting in Nicosia on October 3 to discuss visa issues.

While in Russia EU experts will meet with ministry officials to ask them additional questions and to get information detailed, Azimov said. "Before the end of the year we are to exchange missions on two sets of issues as a minimum, and we are actually proposing three sets, and we are to complete the exchange after a Russia-EU summit early next year, he said.

"Russia will send its experts to Brussels and EU countries, too. We are prepared to assume a more flexible position and will not insist on making the missions too numerous. We basically want to compete the work on the joint steps as soon as possible and to start drafting a visa scrapping agreement in the second half of 2013," he said.

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