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March 14, 08

NEWS / Slovakia says to sign U.S. visa deal Monday


BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia will sign an agreement with the United States that will lead to visa-free travel, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said on Friday.

Bilateral agreements on visa-free travel and air security between some central and eastern European states and Washington have upset the EU, which seeks to negotiate as a united bloc.

But the EU and the United States calmed tensions at talks in Slovenia on Thursday by agreeing to negotiations between member states and Washington in parallel with EU-U.S. talks.

Kalinak said he would sign a memorandum of understanding in Washington on Monday, following other ex-communist European Union members that had recently agreed to similar deals.

"We kept our word that we would wait until the outcome of the negotiations (in Slovenia)... and only then continue with further steps," Kalinak said.

He said Bratislava had to meet a number of conditions before the United States would abolish the visa requirement, but added the motion could occur by the end of this year.

Washington has signed separate deals with the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia, while Lithuania and Hungary are also expected to join the group later this month.

(Reporting by Peter Laca)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL1492767220080314

 




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