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Visa requirements for Poles visiting the U.S. could soon be relaxed

Condoleezza Rice, the American Secretary of State, visited Poland on Saturday. Although she only stayed four hours, she still managed to deal with numerous issues. The most important being that Poland and the U.S. accepted a plan leading to the lifting of visa obligations for Poles traveling to the U.S., or at least making them less severe.

Details of the plan, dubbed "Road Map" by Prime Minister Marek Belka, will be revealed only after the meeting of George Bush with President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who visits the U.S. on Wednesday. The "Road Map" envisages the actions that will be taken until 2006. Belka said, however, that accepting the plan does not mean that Poles will be allowed to enter the U.S. without visas in 2006. It is not the White House but Congress who decides which countries have visa free entry to the U.S.

Poland presently does not meet the formal requirements for countries included on the list. There was one exception made for Ireland, prior to September 11 2001, since then the regulations have been tightened again. Another requirement is the issuing of new passports that have the latest protection against forgery and a computer chip with the owner's data.

(WBJ 07.ii.05)

 
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