Sat, May 07, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Israel to grant ROC citizens visa-free status soon: official

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Officials from Taiwan and Israel were optimistic yesterday that Taiwanese would be granted visa privileges, adding that an agreement on direct commercial passenger and cargo flights could also be signed by the two countries in the near future.

Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei Representative Simona Halperin told the Taipei Times that her country could announce visa-waiver privileges for Republic of China passport holders “anytime soon.”

The responsible ministries within the Israeli government have agreed to the proposal to grant visa-waiver privilege to Taiwanese, with a draft visa abolition agreement in the final stages of negotiation, Halperin said.

After the negotiations have been completed, the agreement will be discussed at the Israeli Knesset, but implementation of the agreement is not subject to its approval, she added.

Carmel Shama Hacohen, a member of the Taiwan caucus at the Israeli Knesset who is leading a delegation of five lawmakers on a visit to Taiwan, told Deputy Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) on Thursday that the agreement could take effect by the end of this year.

The Israeli government has also agreed to direct flights between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Tel Aviv for the first time.

“[We are] at the final stage of having agreed tests on an air service agreement which will pave the way for commercial flight companies ... to establish direct flights for cargo and passengers,” Halperin said.

Asked for comment, Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) said the ministry is in the process of negotiating visa-waiver status and air service agreements with various countries, including Israel.

“The negotiations [with Israel] have been going well,” Yang said.

The abolition of visas and the air service agreement will bring positive impacts to bilateral exchanges between Taiwan and Israel in economics, tourism and personnel, he said.

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