Visa-Free Meeting to be Held in Prague

A meeting concerning the movement towards a visa-free regime with the U.S. will be held in Prague on Wednesday, 24 January. The meeting concerns the so-called "Road Map" countries, or those countries on their way to gaining visa-free access to the United States, including the Baltic states and the Visegrad group countries, such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Poland and the Czech Republic among others. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will descend upon the Czech capital to discuss the eventual changes in the U.S. law as a result of an announcement by President George Bush in November 2006 to allow more visa-free access to the country, and to discuss the criteria to be met by each Road Map country.

The meeting is the first step in eliminating a painful irony in international relations: that U.S. citizens do not need a visa to travel to the Czech Republic (or other Visegrad Group countries), but the United States requires one of Czechs. Besides the time-consuming nature of obtaining such documents as visas, the expense involved for Czechs attempting to obtain a visa has been a barrier to many who would like to travel to America. Though no date has yet been set for visa-free travel, one hopes the agenda set by the meeting will bring the dream of visa-free travel one step closer to reality.


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