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    Russia Not Ruling Out Implementation of Visa-Free Regime With Georgia - FM

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    Russia is committed to simplification of the visa regime with Georgia and considers visa-free travel a possible option in the long run, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The statement followed Tuesday's meeting of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Zurab Abashidze, the special representative of the prime minister of Georgia for relations with Russia.

    "The sides stated the number of humanitarian exchanges and contacts between people has intensified. Owing to simplification of the visa regime for Georgian nationals introduced in late 2015… the number of issued visas has doubled and reached 40,000. Karasin confirmed [Russia's] commitment to further simplification of visa regime, not ruling out its cancellation in the long run," the ministerial statement said.

    The two sides also discussed the bilateral agreement on trade monitoring signed in 2011. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it was not worth delaying its practical implementation,

    During his annual press conference in December 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not rule out the return of visa-free regime for Georgian citizens. At present, Russians can travel to Georgia without obtaining a visa, but Georgian citizens need a visa to visit Russia.

    In August 2008, Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia in response to Moscow's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, the representatives of the new Georgian government that came to power after the election in October 2012, named normalization of relations with Russia one of the top foreign policy priorities. At the moment, the dialogue between Russia and Georgia is carried out within the Geneva discussions, addressing the consequences of the 2008 conflict, and regular meetings between Abashidze and Karasin.

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    European Union, diplomatic relations, visa-free regime, Zurab Abashidze, Grigory Karasin, Georgia
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