The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia and Fiji have agreed to begin work to draw up a visa-free travel agreement.
“Currently, not many Russians visit Fiji – about 500-700 people a year,” Lavrov said during a news conference following talks with his Fijian colleague Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
“We hope that the agreement on visa-free contacts would contribute to the development of tourism.”
Lavrov’s trip to Fiji as part of his Asia-Pacific tour marked the first visit by a Russian foreign minister to the island nation. Fiji and the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations in 1974.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the visit aimed to establish a regular political dialogue and expand interaction in international affairs, as well as to work out prospective trade, investment and humanitarian projects with regional countries.
Russia and Fiji are planning to develop cooperation in the spheres of agriculture, mining, fishery and medicine, Lavrov said during the news conference.
Russia is also ready to provide more scholarships for Fijian students to study in Russian universities, he said.
Kubuabola said in his turn cooperation with Russia would help Fiji “ensure its independence and self-sufficiency.”
“Contacts with Russia are important not only politically, but also economically because they help us develop our economy and create jobs,” he said.
Russia took over the rotating chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2012. Lavrov’s tour also included Japan, Brunei, New Zealand and Australia.