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PHNOM PENH – Cambodia and the Maldives on Jan. 16 signed six agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to the capital city of Malé, as the two countries are looking to expand cooperation on trade, tourism and agriculture.
Hun Sen is paying a three-day visit to the Maldives, from Jan. 15 to 17, at the invitation of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, becoming the first Cambodian top leader to visit the archipelago.
A first agreement has been signed to grant visa exemption to holders of diplomatic, official and ordinary passports, while another agreement has been signed to build up economic cooperation between the two countries.
Four MOUs, focusing on political consultation, tourism, health and the cooperation of commerce chambers were also signed.
In a joint press conference, Solih said that he and Hun Sen discussed the import of agricultural products from Cambodia such as rice, cassava, corn, pepper, fruit, wood and travel clothes while Cambodia will consider importing canned tuna fish and other fish products from the Maldives.
“The signing of the agreements and our talk today will contribute to the bright future of our relationship, which I will maintain and strengthen,” Solih said.
Solih also announced two scholarships for Cambodian students and offered Cambodian defense officials to attend basic diving training this year. Such training will be organized by the Maldivian Coast Guard.
The Maldives will also receive 20 Cambodians for a hospitality training course at its world-class resorts.
Hun Sen said there is potential for the two countries to expand bilateral trade with the possibility of exchanging agricultural and clothing products.
He added that canned tuna fish from the Maldives could possibly become the first product from the country to enter the Cambodian market since Cambodian people consume a lot of it and the government uses it for emergency food assistance when necessary.
“I and the President focus on promoting cooperation in the tourism sector. Not only for Cambodians to the Maldives or Maldivians to Cambodia but also [for people from third countries] who visit Cambodia to see the temples, [who] then [could] go to the Maldives for leisure or those [who] visit the Maldives and [then want to] visit the temples [in Cambodia] later,” he said during the press conference.
“We can be a tour package with a single visa.”
Hun Sen also conveyed King Norodom Sihamoni’s invitation to Solih to visit Cambodia, and if possible, when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games in May 2023.
Cambodia will also name a street ‘Cambodia-Maldives Friendship Street’ in one of the country’s coastal cities – no exact location was unveiled – to show the historic ties between the two countries.
The naming of the street could be officialized during Solih’s visit.
The two leaders also announced their support to each other in the international arena with Cambodia supporting the Maldives to become an ASEAN observer and a party to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and the Maldives supporting Cambodia to receive observer status of Organization of Islamic Cooperation.