Rinkevics wants deal to send back illegal immigrants

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs signalled growing impatience October 13 with Vietnam's inability to agree on a deal that would allow Latvia to send Vietnamese citizens illegally crossing the border back home quickly.

At the Ministerial Meeting of the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, Rinkēvičs met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Nguyen Quoc Dung, to discuss prospects for political and economic cooperation between both countries.

"During the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs called on the Vietnamese side to accelerate the conclusion of a readmission agreement with Latvia.

"The Minister acknowledged its special importance for the country in view of the considerable number of Vietnamese citizens who are illegally crossing the border of Latvia," said a release by the Latvian Foreign Ministry without quoting either of the parties directly.

As previously reported by LSM, a large number of Vietnamese citizens arrive illegally in Latvia every year, most of them after being brought by Russian people traffickers and then turned loose on the eastern border.

According to official figures, Vietnamese and Iraqis were the two largest groups of nationals seeking asylum in Latvia in 2015. However, out of 328 total applications, only 6 were granted full refugee status and 23 a secondary category known as "alternative status".

A readmission agreement would allow Vietnamese nationals to be sent straight back home without going through a lengthy, expensive and ultimately fruitless asylum application.

The talks also included discussion of joint opportunities in the areas of business and education as well as a possible deal to avoid double taxation, the ministry said.

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