Sri Lanka re-opens southern borders with India

Image copyright C Alopa Image caption The border with India has also been re-opened

Sri Lanka has re-opened the Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu borders and said it would issue visas to all countries except China.

Only citizens of China, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Egypt can now be granted a visa to enter the island nation.

Entry to the country is still possible for people travelling from any of these countries.

An official statement said Sri Lanka was now open for all travellers.

Thousands of Tamil civilians who fled the war in Sri Lanka ended up in India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka in January for an event hosted by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Image copyright Yasho Godilkeage Image caption Members of the Tamil diaspora are applying for Indian visas through a special Sri Lankan consulate in Chennai

Sri Lanka closed its border with India in 2009 after a conflict between Tamil separatists and the government in Colombo.

Thousands of Sri Lankans who were taking refuge in Tamil Nadu got citizenship in 2009, but returned after the civil war ended in 2009.

The Sri Lankan consulate in Chennai has published rules for Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu citizens to obtain visas, and will apply for appointments for the long-term Indian visa holders.

Sri Lanka says it will soon issue visas to visitors from four other countries: the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Many Sri Lankans are staying in Oman’s capital Muscat as their closest alternative

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s government confirmed the reopening of the country’s embassy in Muscat and two consulates – in Kuwait and Qatar.

It has also opened a consulate in Abu Dhabi.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Since opening a consulate in Abu Dhabi in January, Sri Lanka has seen increased interest from economic migrants

Aliya Kumpura, a member of the Sri Lankan community in the UK, told the BBC there had been a “seismic change” in the government’s thinking about the country’s relationship with India.

The UK-based immigration lawyer said she was surprised that India had been closed to Sri Lankans and that Sri Lanka has been closing down missions in countries such as the US and EU countries.

On Wednesday, India said that Iran had refused Sri Lanka visa for its navy commander in chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba, who had been invited to visit the country.

India and Iran are divided in the belief that Sri Lanka broke a 2007 agreement on the sharing of offshore resources.

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