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Russia and Latvia could sign simplified visa deal in 2008

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Russia's ambassador to Latvia said on Wednesday that the two countries could sign a simplified visa agreement by the end of 2008 to boost bilateral ties and trans-border cooperation.
PSKOV, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's ambassador to Latvia said on Wednesday that the two countries could sign a simplified visa agreement by the end of 2008 to boost bilateral ties and trans-border cooperation.

"Work in this direction has moved forward considerably and if no obstacles arise from the European Union, the agreement could actually be concluded as soon as this year," Alexander Veshnyakov said.

He also said that a Russian-Latvian working group comprising business heads, ministry officials and customs and immigration officers will gather in Pskov on Friday to discuss developing border infrastructure, labor migration, as well as expansion of a new EU-Russia communications link through Latvia.

The idea to simplify the visa regime for travel between the countries was first raised by Russia last December, when the ex-Soviet nations ratified a treaty stipulating that a 9.5-kilometer (6-mile) sector of the border be moved 30 meters (98 feet) to the west into Russian territory.

The move meant that Latvia, which became an EU member in 2004, officially recognized its post-Soviet borders with Russia, dropping its earlier territorial claims to the Pytalovsky District in Russia's Pskov Region, part of the Baltic country until World War II.

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