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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan in the island state on Tuesday to discuss opening a road between the two neighboring South Asian countries -East.

The meeting follows Singapore’s announcement Monday to expand its vaccine lane program with Indonesia, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Indonesia and Singapore have agreed to discuss arrangements for the vaccinated travel path on the basis of reciprocity and to work in more detail on the unilateral vaccinated travel path that Singapore will launch. November 29 for Indonesian travelers on a point. -point between Jakarta and Singapore.

Singapore’s foreign minister indicated that Singapore’s unilateral vaccinated route [to Indonesia] is based on confidence, improving the COVID-19 situation in Indonesia and a high vaccination rate, ”Marsudi said in the statement released after their meeting.

The two foreign ministers also held talks on establishing a safe travel bubble between Singapore and the Indonesian resort island of Bintan, which is only about an hour from Singapore by ferry.

Singapore’s Transport Minister S. Iswaran told the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Multi-Ministerial Working Group press conference on Monday that in a pre-pandemic period, Indonesia was among the Top five markets for passenger arrivals at its Changi Airport and made up around 10% in 2019, as the two countries have close people-to-people ties and Singapore is among the top foreign investors in Indonesia.

The vaccinated travel route will begin with two daily designated flights between Singapore and Jakarta and gradually grow to four.

Indonesia reopened its borders on October 14 for tourists from 19 countries, excluding Singapore, to arrive at Bali International Airport, but a month after the official reopening, no international flights have yet landed on the resort island.

“We hope Indonesia will also soon reopen its borders to travelers from Singapore,” Iswaran said.

He added that in addition to Indonesia, Singapore also plans to launch vaccinated traffic routes with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates from December 6 and with India on November 29, citing Singapore’s strong bilateral and economic ties with countries in the Middle East. Over 400 Singaporean companies have established their base in the United Arab Emirates, while Singapore hosts a significant presence of Middle Eastern companies which often establish their headquarters in South East Asia in the country.

“It is essential that we re-establish our connectivity with the Middle East,” Iswaran said, adding that the expansion of the vaccinated travel pathways programs from Singapore to the three Gulf countries will restore two-way movement between those countries without require travelers to self-quarantine upon arrival.

Fully vaccinated travelers from Singapore can already enter the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia without quarantine, while Qatar requires travelers to self-isolate until they test negative for PCR. arrival.

“Collectively, we aim to have three to four daily vaccinated flights with these countries,” Iswaran said.

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are among Singapore’s Tier 2 countries, under its Ministry of Health’s four-tier health measures, Tier 1 – including Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and Taiwan – being the safest.

Travelers from countries included in the vaccinated travel route will not be required to self-quarantine upon arrival, but will be required to present a negative PCR test result taken within two days prior to departure and take another test upon arrival. ‘arrival.

Travelers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates can start requesting the vaccine pass for short and long-term visits on November 29.

James R. Rhodes