BRUSSELS (AP) " European Union member states have backed a proposal to allow Georgian citizens into Europe's passport-free area without visas for short stays.

The 28 member states on Monday endorsed the visa waiver which will allow Georgians with a biometric passport to enter the 26-nation Schengen area for 90 days for business, tourist or family reasons but not to work.

Monday's backing was another major step to make the Georgian visa waiver a reality after the EU legislature also backed it earlier this month. Both the council of member states and the parliament still need to sign it formally.

Georgia had long been seeking the waiver and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called it "a historic day for Georgia and its citizens."

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