Russia hopes new accord with EU will apply to official passport holders

Russia hopes to sign an agreement with the European Union to further simplify visa requirements, including for holders of official passports, at their summit in December and expects to receive the EU's reply on the matter before the end of October.

"The Russian side is hopeful that EU countries and the European Commission will demonstrate their political goodwill and agree to conclude this modernized agreement on all of the parameters we have discussed with our partners, including the situation with holders of official passports," the Russian Foreign Ministry's Ambassador Anvar Azimov told Interfax.

"Our position is that they should provide us with a final answer before the end of October. We have not been told anything officially yet. We will then formulate our approach," he said.

"We are eager to sign the visa-facilitation agreement without service passport holders. This is our position," EU Delegation to Russia spokesman Soren Liborius told Interfax.

"The Russian side plans to continue contacts with the European Commission up to the summit in order to try and include persons holding official biometric passports in this agreement before the summit," Azimov said.

The EU has at least 15 times as many holders of official passports than Russia, he said.

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