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Duma okays Indo-Russian visa-free travel pact

The step would ease the entry and exit of military-technical personnel of India and Russia.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 21:30 IST

The lower house of Russian Parliament on Friday ratified an agreement on mutual visa-free travel of those having diplomatic and service passports.

The step would ease the entry and exit of military-technical personnel of India and Russia.

The pact approved by Duma was signed in December 2004 during President Vladimir Putin's India visit.

It provides for visa-free travel for up to 90 day for diplomatic and official passport holders and allows issuance of visa for them inside the territory of the other country for a longer stay.

"First of all, this agreement is directed at easing the entry and exit of military-technical personnel and would allow to boost cooperation between India and Russia," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alekseev told the house before the vote.

After Duma approval, the visa pact would go for the nod of Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, before being signed into law by President Putin.

But the issue of simplified business visa facility has been put on the back-burner with Moscow linking its signing with the so called "re-admission" pact to forestall illegal immigration from India.

According to diplomatic sources this demand is being made within the framework Russia's simplified visa talks with the European Union.

"We cannot accept a demand made under the pressure of third party, which would require us to review the status of our open borders with neighbouring Nepal," they said.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 21:30 IST