President Vladimir Putin announced the conclusion of the agreements at a meeting with the government and asked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to provide more detailed information on the documents signed.
Mr Lavrov said that the agreements with France and Italy were signed on June 15, 2004 and come into force from the moment of their signature, though they still have to be ratified.
Under the new agreements, members of the business community and people taking part in scientific, cultural, educational and sports exchanges will be able to obtain visas through a simplified procedure. Multi-entry visas can now be issued for a period of up to five years. Procedures for obtaining visas through invitations have been simplified and visas will be issued free of charge.