Local News: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardena has assured Sri Lanka will provide medical personnel to Maldives, should the situation of COVID-19 escalate and more medical assistance is required. Minister Gunawardena made the statement during a telephone conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives Abdulla Shahid.
During the phone call, Foreign Minister Shahid thanked Foreign Minister Gunawardena for the kind hospitality and regard extended towards the Maldivian community in Sri Lanka. Minister Shahid also assured Maldives will ensure the well-being of Sri Lankan citizens in Maldives.
Noting the limitations in the health sector, Minister Shahid requested assistance from the Sri Lankan government to secure medical personnel, should the need arise, to which Minister Gunawardena graciously agreed. Furthermore, the ministers agreed that, under the current extraordinary circumstances, to the extent possible, the movement of the citizens of their respective countries will continue to be governed by the agreement on visa facilitation signed between the two governments.
Both ministers noted the escalating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe and in the region. Minister Shahid commended the Sri Lankan government for its efforts and measures implemented to deter the spread of COVID-19.
Minister Shahid briefly outlined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fragile economy of the Maldives, a small island nation highly dependent on tourism and imports, and acknowledged that Sri Lanka and Maldives share many commonalities.
Both ministers discussed the actions of their respective governments following the digital conference held by SAARC leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Shahid informed Maldives has established a COVID-19 emergency relief fund with a pledge of USD 200,000 and also concurred with SAARC Development Fund to mobilise USD 5 million as grant aid from its existing budget for COVID-19 emergency efforts.
During the phone conversation, both ministers reaffirmed their commitment to intensify their collaboration, founded on historic and close relations that exist between Maldives and Sri Lanka.