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Latvia: Russia Inactive In Baltic Sea Council

Riga, 2 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs today said he wished Russia would more actively participate in the Baltic Sea Council, which opened a session today in Riga.

Birkavs said, in his opinion, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov's absence from the council's ministerial session meant Russia did not consider the organization important.

The Baltic Sea Council is composed of the Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Russia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Foreign ministers and diplomats from the 11 states are expected to discuss regional cooperation in combatting crime, environmental protection, and economic issues during the council's two-day meeting.

Meanwhile today, Birkavs and Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjorn Tore Godal signed an agreement removing travel restrictions between the two countries. Under the agreement, travellers between their countries will no longer need entry visas after August 1.