Ambassador Shib Nath Roy talks to Kuensel after the ground breaking ceremony of the Bangladesh Chancery in Thimphu. An excerpt

What significance does the establishment of the Bangladesh Embassy in Thimphu hold for the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan?

Bangladesh and Bhutan had a good relationship since our independence and Bhutan was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign country. After the sudden demise of His Majesty the Third King, His Majesty the Fourth King visited Bangladesh on December 16, 1974, at that time, our father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was alive and it was from then, that our bilateral relationship was able to form a strong base.

The embassy will serve as an entity to develop multi sectoral collaborations between our two nations such as trade, health and education among many others.

What areas of cooperation are expected to strengthen and how do you envision the embassy contributing to the enhancement of cultural, economic, and people-to-people ties between Bangladesh and Bhutan?

Bangladeshi people have always had a great interest in visiting Bhutan and a people-to-people connection is essential for these two countries because Bhutan and Bangladesh are separated by only 600 km.

This year, 22 Bhutanese students were enrolled in medical colleges in Bangladesh to pursue their MBBS courses.

We are also discussing making the system very friendly and His Majesty The King and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured us that the SDF will be waived to improve the level of the people-to-people connections.

The Bangladeshi government is trying their best and is always ready to go the extra mile to ensure the people are connected. Our doctors  working here are serving with a lot of praise and the Bangladesh government is now providing 22 scholarships for MBBS and BDS degrees every year. There are also a lot of Bhutanese students studying in Bangladesh taking engineering and medicine courses.

Bangladeshi engineers are also working in the communication sector in Bhutan. We are trying our best to improve professional and cultural connections.

In what ways do Bangladesh and Bhutan plan to boost economic collaboration, trade, and investment in the coming years? Are there specific sectors where both countries see potential for increased collaboration and mutual benefit?

The signing of the Transit Agreement between Bhutan and Bangladesh will boost economic collaboration in the future. Bhutanese vehicles can freely travel to Bangladesh and Bangladeshi goods can be imported through this agreement.

We are also trying to join hydropower. The MOU between Bangladesh and Bhutan in the hydropower sector will be signed, most probably after the elections. Environment conservation is also very important for our country because Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon-neutral. We are keen to develop our climate sector with Bhutan and we have many activities in this area and are hopeful to develop it.

What is your vision for the future of Bangladesh-Bhutan relations? Are there any specific goals or milestones that you hope to achieve during your tenure as the Ambassador to Bhutan?

His Majesty The King granted us this land which is 1.5 acres. We have a dream to construct a park near the river, below the embassy, dedicated to the leadership of our two countries, which would highlight the strong friendship between Bhutan and Bangladesh.

A milestone which was already achieved is the signing of the Transit Agreement between our two nations, which was done in March of this year. We cannot fully understand what will be the benefit right now, but in the future, Bhutanese vehicles can drive to the Bay of Bengal and use Bangladeshi ports for trade, which was a dream project for our Prime Minister and His Majesty the King.