Taiwan signs visafree agreement with Solomon Islands

Taipei, Taiwan and the Solomon Islands signed a mutual visa waiver agreement in Tuvalu Friday on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

The agreement was signed by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and his Solomon Islands counterpart Jeremiah Manele, witnessed by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou said in a statement.

According to MOFA, the agreement, which allows citizens from both countries to travel to each other's country without a visa and stay for 90 days, will be implemented after the two sides have completed their respective internal procedures.

This is the fifth visafree agreement signed by Taiwan with one of its Pacific allies, after similar accords were signed with Nauru, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Palau.

The measure will strengthen peopletopeople exchanges in the fields of business and tourism and further deepen relations between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, MOFA said.

The signing of the visa exemption agreement came amid speculation that TaiwanSolomon Islands relations have become strained. Local media in the Solomon Islands have reported previously that the island state is reassessing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan after a general election in April that gave the country a new leadership.

Wu is currently in Tuvalu for the threeday Pacific Islands Forum which began Thursday. Prior to the signing of the visa agreement, Wu held a bilateral meeting with Sogavare to discuss important bilateral cooperation plans and regional issues, according to MOFA.

Sogavare, who thanked Taiwan for its assistance in different areas over the years, briefed Wu on the national development goals of its new administration, adding that he hopes Taiwan and other partners can provide assistance to its development, especially in transportation infrastructure.

In response, Wu promised to find viable ways along with likeminded countries to help the Solomon Islands, as Taiwan cherishes its relations with all its Pacific allies, MOFA said.

Wu also hosted the 27th Taiwan/ROCForum Countries Dialogue with Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga Friday, led a donation ceremony for a clean energy cooperation project and announced a plan by Taiwan to establish Taiwan Digital Opportunity Centers(TDOCs) in Pacific countries to bridge the digital gap in remote areas.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel