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Thailand and Burma to ease visa requirements for citizens

The Thai cabinet has approved a bilateral agreement eliminating visas for Thai and Burmese citizens making short-term visits by air.

The cabinet on Tuesday endorsed the Thai Foreign Ministry’s proposal to approve an agreement lifting visa requirements for air travellers staying up to 14 days.

The agreement will come to effect only after both countries sign the agreement, Thailand’s Government House said in a statement released after the cabinet meeting. The ministry could represent Thailand in the signing with Burma, but a date has not been set.

The visa-free plan will cover only travellers from the two countries using 23 designated Thai airports, government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.

They are: Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Nan, Phitsanulok, Mae Sot, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Krabi, Trang, Narathiwat, Ranong, Surat Thani, Hua Hin, Samui, Sukhothai and U-tapao.

It does not include travellers passing through land border checkpoints, the spokesman added.

The government did not explain the reasons for the decision, which reflects closer bilateral ties.

The visa-free arrangement could be cancelled by either Thailand or Burma, but they must give 60 days advance notice through their respective foreign ministries.

It could also be cancelled for health or security reasons, with 15 days notice, the statement added.

Burma is a popular destination for Thai tourists, who currently have to apply for a visa to enter the neighbouring country. The visa allows them to stay up to 28 days.

This article was first published in the Bangkok Post on 22 October 2013.



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