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  Monday, October 14, 2019
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Israel expects to sign an agreement with Russia by early 2008 to switch to a visa free regime
Israel expects to sign an agreement with Russia by early 2008 to switch to a visa free regime, the minister of strategic affairs said Monday. "At least we are looking forward to introducing visa free travel starting January 1 [2008] in the framework of a bilateral agreement between Russia and Israel," Avigdor Lieberman said on the Russian-language radio REKA. The Israeli government approved Sunday a special commission's proposal to launch bilateral talks with Russia to cancel entry visas. The Foreign Ministry was also ordered to start similar talks with other states within the former Soviet Union. Israeli authorities expect the move will help triple tourist flows from Russia to 25 million people a year in the next three years. The Tourism Ministry has said for every 100,000 tourists visiting Israel, 4,000 new jobs are created in the country, bringing in at least $100 million in income. "About 4 million tourists [from Russia] visit the Middle East every year, whereas Israel only gets around 100,000 of these visitors, which is down to the need to obtain visas," the tourism minister said in an earlier statement. "Other countries in the region do not require entry visas." Lieberman, who also leads the Russian-speaking party Our Home Is Israel and is a co-sponsor of the initiative, said Tel Aviv had planned to prepare and sign the agreement in early October, when Mikhail Fradkov, Russian prime minister until his surprise dismissal last week, was expected to visit the country. "We had received indications that the agreement would be approved and the signing take place during Fradkov's visit. As a visit is unlikely to take place, we will seek talks with Russia's Foreign Ministry, and we hope a response will follow in a month or six weeks," he said.
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