Chhimi Dema 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been studying Bhutan’s need to establish diplomatic relations based on the country’s benefit, according to the foreign minister Dr Tandi Dorji.

During the National Assembly session yesterday, Jomotsangkha-Martshala’s Member of Parliament (MP), Norbu Wangzom, asked the foreign minister about the government’s plan to establish three diplomatic relations.

In 2020, the government established diplomatic ties with the State of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Norbu Wangmo asked: “The government had pledged to establish foreign relations with five countries within their tenure. Would it be possible to establish the relations within the tenure of the government?”

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji said that the pandemic did not enable the government to strengthen diplomatic relations. “Those years taught that the number isn’t important so long the country is benefitted from the ties.”

Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 54 countries and the European Union.

Lyonpo said that the first government established 31 diplomatic relations. The second government did not establish any diplomatic relations.

Lyonpo said: “Going ahead, the government has decided to work on establishing foreign relations depending on their benefits without considering the number of ties.

He added that the ministry would assess whether the country needs to establish relations with the three countries or not. “Based on transformations and changes in the country, the ministry will decide on establishing international relations.”

The country is expected to open to tourism in September.

The minister, responding to a question from Khamaed-Lunana MP Yeshey Dem on the re-opening border, said that the National Covid-19 Taskforce after assessing the country’s situation would notify the government to re-open the borders.

Bhutan closed all its border gates from March 23, 2020.

“Although the virus has receded in many countries, there is still risks. International news and reports show that the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 spread faster,” Lyonpo said.

BA.4 and BA.5 were first detected in South Africa in January and February.