US signs visa waiver deals with Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania

March 18th, 2008 - 5:22 am ICT by admin  

Washington, March 18 (DPA) The US has signed visa waiver agreements with Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania, a move that has upset the European Union because of the bilateral nature of the agreements. The three countries agreed to increase security measures, meaning citizens will eventually be able to travel to the US without a visa, said US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Also signing were Slovak Minister of the Interior Robert Kalinak, Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Somogyi and Lithuanian Ambassador Audrius Bruzga.

I applaud Slovakia, Hungary and Lithuania for their leadership on these enhanced security measures, and I look forward to the day when their citizens can travel to the United States without a visa,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, according to a press statement.

Under the agreements, Chertoff’s department will establish an electronic system of travel authorization for air passengers, including provision of basic information online. Details are to be announced later this year.

The agreement requires the countries to report lost and stolen passports and permit air marshals to board certain flights originating in the US.

Currently, 27 countries belong to the visa waiver programme. Agreements have recently been signed with the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia in recent weeks.

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