P.M. moves for progress on Israeli visa waiver programme

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has urged Israel’s President to transition smoothly to an already-signed visa waiver programme between the two nations.  

Tuilaepa made the comments to the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, when attending the Israeli-Pacific Leaders’ Summit.

He was joined by leaders from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Federated States of Micronesia for the summit, which was hosted in Suva, Fiji.

Speaking at the meeting, Tuilaepa acknowledged the longstanding mutual friendship between Israel and Pacific nations.

He said the rising connectedness between the nations is reflected by a growth in interest for trips to Israel and greater personal links between people from the islands and in Israel. 

Last year, Tuilaepa signed an agreement to remove visa requirements for Israelis and Samoans during a bi-lateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu Jerusalem.

Tuilaepa noted that Israel is offering potential solutions to the many challenges facing the Pacific, such as creating knowledge based societies, and building capabilities with advanced technologies in fields where Israel has displayed an advantage in innovation. 

He emphasised the importance of agriculture and food security and meeting basic needs such as water for isolated small island countries, given their limited resources and looming impacts of climate change. 

By the end of the two day summit, an Outcomes Statement was co-signed by all countries present. The communique focused on the key areas in which Israel is willing to provide support to the Pacific.

These include assistance in agriculture and food security, water resource management, public health, disaster preparedness and climate change.

The Israelis’ assistance through the provision of a medical team during the measles epidemic was also acknowledged.

“We look forward to a continuation of similar summits in the future and may this cooperation deepen and be mutually beneficial to the Pacific and Israel,” Tuilaepa said.

Israel has given assurances of its early endorsement of the visa waiver programme with Israel by the country’s Knesset (Parliament).

The country said it had taken note of the importance of genuine and durable partnerships for consolidated engagement with the Pacific in order to reaffirm the bonds of friendship and solidarity.

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