SINGAPORE: Singapore and Indonesia are set to begin discussions on a "reciprocal green lane" to allow essential travel to gradually resume, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Tuesday (Aug 25).
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi agreed that both countries should work closely together to strengthen public health cooperation, enhance economic growth and investments, deepen financial cooperation and facilitate safe travel, said MFA in a statement.
"Given the strong business links between Singapore and Indonesia, the two foreign ministers tasked the officials to begin discussions on a 'reciprocal green lane' to allow for essential travel to gradually resume in a manner that would safeguard public health and safety in both countries," the ministry said.
Ms Marsudi is visiting Singapore from Aug 24 to Aug 26. She was hosted to lunch by Dr Balakrishnan and she also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on Tuesday.
Mr Lee and Ms Marsudi reaffirmed "the excellent relations" between Singapore and Indonesia, and discussed how the two countries can continue to work together to overcome common challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, said MFA.
They also encouraged further bilateral discussions between the officials, the MFA statement added.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Lee said he spoke to Indonesian President Joko Widodo several times in the past few months, and continued the discussion with Ms Marsudi on "jointly overcoming the pandemic".
"Singapore is glad to have been able to contribute medical supplies to support Indonesia’s fight against COVID-19," Mr Lee said, adding that Singapore is on track to remain the top investor in Indonesia this year, which has been the case since 2014.
"Even as we pick up the pieces from the pandemic, we should not neglect helping each other recover from this crisis. As close neighbours, we have a responsibility to look out for each other, as we are all stronger together," said Mr Lee.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Dr Balakrishnan said: "As close neighbours, Singapore and Indonesia have cooperated well to tackle the common challenges brought about by COVID-19 over the past few months."
"Given the extensive people-to-people and business links between our countries, we agreed that officials can start exploring how to safely resume essential official and business travel, with comprehensive safeguards in place to protect the health of our people," he added.