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Slovak diplomats hope Bush talks visas

AHEAD of the US-Russian summit meeting in Bratislava on February 24, Slovak diplomats are hoping that President George Bush will announce the simplification of the visa regime for Slovaks wanting to visit the United States.

However, Slovakia is not the only state hoping to see a change in the visa regime, according to the daily SME.

The other three members of the Visegrad Four states - the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, are also hoping for a change.

Following a recent meeting with President Bush, Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski announced that the simplification of the visa regime for Polish citizens wanting to travel to the US was expected within two years.

In Bratislava, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovic and the Foreign Ministry also want to deal with this topic.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Tomaga, "it is up to President Bush what he will say".

On February 11, Slovakia's former Foreign Minister Pavol Demeš tried to convince advisors to US congressmen that at least the criteria for issuing visas to Slovaks should be clarified.

However, Demeš does not think that the visa will be cancelled altogether but thinks that the criteria will be explained to Slovaks.

Slovak citizens do not know what criteria they have to meet to get a visa and the US Embassy in Slovakia does not explain the reasons for refusing to issue visas either, SME reported.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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