(SKNIS): The relationship between the Governments and people of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of India was further deepened on Friday, February 16, when both countries signed a visa waiver agreement for Diplomatic and Official/Service Passport Holders.
Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Federal Government, the Honourable Mark Brantley, used the occasion to welcome His Excellency Venkatachalam Mahalingnam, High Commissioner of India to St. Kitts and Nevis, before expounding briefly on the relationship between both countries.
“India of course has been a very good friend to St. Kitts and Nevis over the years and we see, being here this morning to sign a visa waiver agreement … which is an important step forward as we try to deepen our relationship with your country,” said Minister Brantley. “I think our public would know that India has been a good friend over the years to St. Kitts and Nevis. We have engaged in various forums and I think that we have benefitted from training, certainly, in terms of diplomacy and other technical areas in India,” the minister added.
Minister Brantley highlighted an important aspect of India’s culture and applauded them for their presence in the Caribbean.
“From our point of view, we see that our relationship with India has really been a relationship with the Caribbean. We of course are very familiar with cricket and with our exploits in cricket and our teams… have battled on the cricket field for a long time,” he said. “We think through that, lots of relationships have been built and I firmly believe in the ongoing efforts of people to people diplomacy that we bring our people closer together and so for us visa waiver is one of those instances. It gives our people a greater opportunity to travel and to interact with each other,” the foreign affairs minister added.
Foreign Minister Brantley explained that St. Kitts and Nevis has unilaterally removed visa requirements for all Indian nationals and all passport holders. He noted that this is an important first step in deepening ties between both countries.
His Excellency Mahalingnam spoke briefly about St. Kitts and Nevis’ removal of visa requirements for all Indian nationals and all passport holders, stating that he will work closely with his government to ensure that the same is returned to St. Kitts and Nevis.
“St. Kitts and Nevis has kindly agreed to exempt visas even for the ordinary passport holders and I will carry it back to my government… so that we can discuss and reciprocate the same way,” he said.
His Excellency Mahalingnam also touched on the relationship between both countries and noted that it is growing.
“We have been steadily improving our relationship and [it]… is excellent given the distance involved between these two countries, but still we keep having good relationship,” said the high commissioner, adding that his country values the friendship with St. Kitts and Nevis. “There is also a good sizeable Indian community here in St. Kitts and Nevis and I understand that they have become part and parcel of St. Kitts and Nevis’ community and they have been doing well and contributes to the development of the country.”
High Commissioner Mahalingnam reiterated the importance of the visa waiver, noting that it will “definitely provide opportunities for Diplomatic and Official/Service Passport Holders to freely move between our two countries”. He added that other areas of cooperation will also be considered, as they look forward “to having continued cooperation to deepen and broaden the relationship between India and St. Kitts and Nevis”.
St. Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of India have had a longstanding relationship that both countries have pledged to deepen in the future.