The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the busiest towards the end of 2018

With new government beginning its term, the ministry of foreign affairs was kept towards the end of 2018 with call-on by ambassadors and foreign visit by prime minister and members of the Cabinet.

While the former prime minister paid his last visit to India in July, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering chose New Delhi within weeks as his first foreign destination citing long-standing and friendly relations with India.

The Dog year saw visits by prime minister of Thailand, vice foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China, Kong Xuanyou, and the foreign secretary of Japan, Taro Kono. The Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhle also visited the country.

Former Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji was one of the five recipients (and the first from Bhutan) of Indian Council for Cultural Relations’ (ICCR) distinguished Alumni Award for 2018. The award was presented to Damcho Dorji for his contribution in promoting goodwill and friendship between India and Bhutan.

As Bhutan and India observed the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, a host of events including cultural festivals, high-level visits, and people-to-people exchanges took place.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers in Bhutan, the Japan Week in Bhutan began with a grant contract signing for the project to construct Judojo, a Judo training hall in Thimphu.

The tourism sector raised concerns about increasing number of conferences being held during peak tourist seasons as the tourism infrastructure, especially hotel accommodation and airline seats are stretched to its limit. The foreign ministry asked government and private agencies to avoid hosting big international and regional conferences during the peak tourist seasons.

The government’s overseas learn and earn programme in Japan, and the overseas employment programme in Malaysia and India came under public scrutiny as those who enrolled in these programmes faced varied challenges abroad.

Royal Audit Authority released embezzlement report of the New York permanent mission.

Tshering Palden