Diplomacy: The first annual bilateral consultation between Bhutan and Sri Lanka on November 16 in Colombo discussed several issues from political relations, trade, investment, tourism, human resource development, to cultural exchanges, and cooperation in regional and multilateral forums.

Foreign Secretary Tshering Dorji and Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Chitranganee Wagiswara welcomed the institution of the annual bilateral consultations as a valuable bilateral forum to further enhance and strengthen friendly cooperative relations between the two countries.

The two sides noted the significant contributions made by regular exchange of visits at all levels. The meeting welcomed the deepening of cooperation in the field of education and human resource development and the potential that exists in this area including the opportunity for Bhutanese to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka.

Bhutan thanked Sri Lanka for the scholarships and placements that are being provided to Bhutanese medical and engineering students. It was agreed that more opportunities would be provided for Bhutanese to pursue higher studies and trainings at universities and institutions in Sri Lanka.

The countries also emphasized the importance of SAARC, BIMSTEC and other regional organizations of which the two are members of and noted that exploiting the full potential of the organizations within the existing frameworks such as the

Agreement on South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) would bring huge benefits to the member states.

Bhutan and Sri Lanka also stressed on the importance of forging institutional linkages between various agencies in the two countries such as parliaments, educational institutions and chambers of commerce.

The next consultation will be held in Thimphu in 2016.

On November 17, foreign secretary Tshering Dorji called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera, and the State Minister of University Education, Mohan Lal Grero.

During the meetings, he expressed appreciation on behalf of the government for Sri Lanka’s invaluable contribution in the health and education sectors.

The Bhutanese delegation also paid homage at the Gangaramaya Temple where His Majesty The Fourth King had laid the foundation stone of the structure supporting the Sri Mahabodhi Tree during His Majesty’s visit to in 1976.