Prime Minister Hun Sen and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena have agreed to speed up the signing of additional memoranda of understanding to cover visa exemptions for diplomats, bilateral air services and cooperation in the field of tourism.
In a joint statement issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday, the two leaders noted that memoranda of understanding were on Thursday signed between the two countries’ foreign ministries and their respective chambers of commerce.
“Both leaders agreed to expedite the signing of the following documents: Agreement on the Exemption of Visa Requirement for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports, Agreement on Bilateral Air Services and Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism,” the joint statement said.
Mr Sirisena and his delegation were in the Kingdom for a four-day state visit from Wednesday to Saturday.
During that time, Mr Hun Sen and Mr Sirisena witnessed the signing of an MoU on Bilateral Consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries and also an MoU between Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and Sri Lanka’s Colombo Chamber of Commerce.
Eang Sophalleth, Mr Hun Sen’s assistant, told reporters after the meeting between both leaders on Thursday that aside from witnessing the signing of the two MoUs, both leaders covered a wide range of issues, including the April bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, over which Mr Hun Sen expressed his condolences for the 300 lives lost.
“The president told Samdech Hun Sen that the purpose of his visit to the Kingdom was to strengthen relationship and expand cooperation between both countries in the sectors of education, culture, tourism, commerce and civil aviation,” he said. “He [Mr Sirisena] urged for a direct flight between Cambodia and Sri Lanka.”
Mr Hun Sen and Mr Sirisena also expressed satisfaction at the growing close relationship between Cambodian and Sri Lankan Buddhist communities, which they desired to be further encouraged by the relevant authorities of both countries.
“Emphasizing the importance of education and human resource development for socio-economic development, the two leaders tasked the educational institutions of both countries to consider creating cooperation mechanisms and exchange programs,” the joint statement noted.
Kin Phea, Director-general of the International Relations Institute at Royal Academic of Cambodia yesterday said that expanding ties includes promoting the exemption of visas and passports for diplomats and officials.
“I think that both countries should provide visa and passport exemptions to diplomats and officials just like in other countries because it is very important to promote diplomatic ties between officials of both countries,” he noted.
Mr Phea also said that having direct flights between both countries would boost tourism and business.
“Tourism and commerce between Cambodia and Sri Lanka is still small,” he said. “However, it is bound to improve in the future.”