Discussions underway to let Singapore visitors to Mongolia stay for 30 days without visa

Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat witness the MOU signing between the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise and the Mongolian Energy Development Centre. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

ULAANBAATAR - Singaporeans visiting Mongolia will soon be able to stay up to 30 days without a visa.

Currently, they can do so for only 14 days.

The visa waiver for a longer period was among several issues of cooperation discussed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Mongolian counterpart Jargaltulga Erdenebat on Thursday (July 14) during a meeting at the State Palace in Ulaanbaatar.

People-to-people ties underpin the relationship between the two countries , said Mr Lee, adding that the visa waiver will make it easier for more leisure and business travel between Singapore and Mongolia.

Mongolian visitors to Singapore, however, can stay up to 30 days without a visa.

The meeting between both prime ministers is the first since Mr Erdenebat was appointed to his post last week, following the victory of his Mongolian People's Party in the country's recent parliamentary election.

Mr Lee, who is on an official visit to Mongolia, was hosted to lunch by Mr Erdenebat, during which they affirmed the warm and friendly relations between their countries.

Singapore and Mongolia commemorated 45 years of diplomatic relations in 2015.

Congratulating Mr Erdenebat on his party's election victory, Mr Lee said he had been looking forward to his visit, the first by a Singapore prime minister to Mongolia.

He added: "One of my goals in coming here is to explore what more we can do together and deepen our bilateral cooperation."

Mr Erdenebat, who had rolled out the red carpet for Mr Lee in a welcome ceremony earlier, said the visit marked the beginning of a new page in bilateral relations. He gave updates on his new team's priorities and spoke of potential areas of cooperation.

He said he was familiar with Singapore as he had participated in a Singapore-World Bank Institute Third Country Training Programme course on leadership that was held in Singapore in 2010, under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.

Describing the programme as an important pillar of both countries' bilateral cooperation, Mr Lee said: "I am pleased to note that Prime Minister Erdenebat himself had attended one of our leadership courses back in 2010. Once a 'Friend of Singapore, always a friend!'

Since 1992, more than 1,200 Mongolian officials have attended courses under the programme, which provides training for officials of other countries.

Mr Lee said there has also been cooperation between businesses and people, but added that "there is much more that we can do together".

Although bilateral trade is modest, totalling $64 million last year, Singapore companies show growing interest in doing business in Mongolia.

For instance, the Misheel Mega Mall, which provides all housing-related services under one roof, is a joint venture between businessmen of the two countries.

Another is an agreement signed on Thursday (July 14). It was an agreement was signed between the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise and Mongolian Energy Development Centre.

Mr Lee said he hoped such joint ventures would strengthen business ties between the two countries.

Before the lunch, Mr Lee met Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and newly-elected Speaker of Parliament Miyeegombo Enkhbold.

The leaders noted their countries have cooperated well in regional frameworks and on the international stage in areas of common interest.

Mr Lee also congratulated Mongolia on hosting the upcoming Asia Europe Meeting Summit, which he will attend in Ulaanbaatar on July 15 and 16.

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