The Maldives and Sri Lanka on Monday signed a new visa facilitation agreement to grant a free 90-day visa on arrival for visitors between the countries.
The agreement was signed after Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived earlier on Monday for a three-day official visit.
Aside from the on-arrival visa, “nationals of either country wishing to conduct business and pursue investments can be granted multiple entry non-resident business visas, thereby facilitating commercial engagements and private sector collaboration,” according to the Maldives president’s office.
“Further, this agreement will also facilitate multiple entry visas for Maldivian students enrolled in Sri Lankan educational institutes, and for their parents and legal guardians provided the students in question are under eighteen years of age.”
The agreement will supersede arrangements made in 2008.
Memoranda of understanding on cooperation in social protection, higher education and vocational training were also signed between the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Under the latter MoU, the respective authorities would
The social protection MoU seeks to “promote cooperation between the two countries in terms of providing support to and protecting vulnerable members of society, including children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.” Under the higher education MoU, the respective authorities would “pursue expanding education opportunities for students of both countries, whilst also sharing knowledge and expertise pertinent to the water sector.”
The third agreement seeks to increase knowledge sharing and facilitate exchanges between students and academics from both countries.
Following an official welcome ceremony at the Republic Square in Malé and bilateral talks chaired by the Sri Lankan prime minister and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the leaders held a joint press conference on Monday morning.
Highlighting cultural ties and the traditionally close relationship between the Indian Ocean neighbours, Solih expressed gratitude towards Sri Lanka’s contribution to capacity building in the Maldives. .
“During this visit, the Prime Minister and I took stock of the progress made since we last met in February this year, and discussed ways in which we can further expand and strengthen our relationship,” he said. “The MOUs we have signed today, are precisely aimed at contributing to this objective.”
The visa agreement would offer relief for Maldivians residing in Sri Lanka to obtain parental, guardian and student visas, he added. Since the new administration took office in November, visa agreements have been signed with the UAE, India, Thailand and Russia.
Prime Minister Wickramasinghe is due to chair the 4th Indian Ocean Conference scheduled to begin on Tuesday.