South Asia to reap the full benefits of close regional cooperation: Bhutan
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay who attended the 18th SAARC Summit held from 26-27 November 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal urged the nation countries to exercise the political will and take necessary steps to make it possible for the people of South Asia to also reap the full benefits of the regional cooperation.
At the inaugural session of the summit, Lyonchhen conveyed the warm greetings and good wishes of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgay Wangchuck. Talking on the theme of the summit – ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’, Lyonchhen said ‘We believe that whether we do so now, on our own terms, or later, under compulsion-forces are at play, which can only be adequately addressed through the collective endeavors of all nations. Such united, coordinated responses are imperative in order to tackle cross border crimes like terrorism, trafficking in humans and drugs, as well as to address wider common challenges like climate change, poverty alleviation and indeed to realize our dreams of prospering together through increased intraregional trade.’
He further said that South Asia region is blessed with abundant natural resources and we have make is sure that it is used optimally and redistributed more equitably. As the region has one fifth of the world population and the population,
which is the greatest and the most precious asset which is particularly young needs better education and skills developments. The poverty alleviation strategy of the region must be aimed at making the optimal use of both the abundant natural resources and the rich human resources of the region.
Of the three Agreements i.e. SAARC Motor Vehicles for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic, SAARC Inter-governmental Framework for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) and SAARC Regional Railways, expected to be signed during the summit, SAARC Intergovernmental Framework for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) was signed by the Ministers of Foreign/ External Affairs of the SAARC member countries on 27th November 2014.
In the morning of the closing day, the Heads of the State/Government, Foreign/External Ministers and the Foreign Secretaries were flow to the Dwarika’s Resort, Dhulikhel for retreat.
In the sideline of the SAARC Summit many bilateral meetings were held between the SAARC member countries.
On November 25, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay held the first bilateral meeting with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Lyonchhen thanked the President for Sri Lanka’s generous support in training and educating Bhutanese students pursuing medicine in Sri Lanka. The President congratulated Lyonchhen for the wonderful speech during the inaugural of the summit.
On November 26, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay met with H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Lyonchhen congratulated Mr. Modi for the excellent speech delivered during the inaugural of the summit. The Indian Prime Minister commended on Bhutan’s endeavor to declare the year 2015 as the National Reading Year and committed to send experts who organized ‘Gujarat is Reading’ to Bhutan. Mr. Modi also extended an invitation to Lyonchhen to attend ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ in January next year. This was the third meeting between Lyonchhen and Mr. Modi within a timespan of six month.
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay met with H.E Rt. Hon. Mr. Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal on November 26, 2014. Lyonchhen thanked Mr. Koirala for extending immediate hospitality to him and his delegates to visit the three holy sites – Swayambhunath; Bouddhanath; and Pashupatinath on the day of his arrival in Nepal. Lyonchhen also thanked Mr. Koirala for the wonderful arrangements of the 18th SAARC Summit.
On 26th November 2014 Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay met with H.E Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President of Afghanistan. Dr. Ahmadzai commended Lyonchhen for the wonderful speech delivered during the inaugural session of the summit. Dr. Ahmadzai is a Scholar and expert on South Asia.
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay met H.E. Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 26, 2014. Lyonchhen said that he look forward to working with Pakistan in harnessing the opportunities existing in the SAARC region.
Apart from the bilateral meeting with the SAARC member countries Lyonchhen was called upon by Ms. Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Affairs, USA and H.E Dr. Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Road and Urban Development, Iran.
Lyonchhen’s delegation to the summit included Lyonpo Rinzin Dorji, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Lyonpo D.N. Dhungyel, Ministry of Information and Communication, Mr. Yeshey Photo: Dorji,UN MoFA and other senior officials from MoFA.
The 19th SAARC Summit will be held in Pakistan.