On the invitation of His Majesty The King, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has arrived in the country yesterday on a three-day state visit yesterday.

His Majesty The King granted an audience to the Prime Minister and her family members at the Tashichhodzong. She was escorted in a traditional chipdrel ceremony and presented a Guard of Honour by the armed forces at the dzong before the audience.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay, cabinet ministers, the ambassador of Bangladesh to Bhutan, and senior government officials received the Prime Minister at the Paro International Airport. Hundreds of school children and residents greeted PM Sheikh Hasina along the highway to Thimphu.

The Prime Minister also met with Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay in the evening and held wide ranging bilateral discussions on the aspects of bilateral relations including trade, education, health, tourism, agriculture and connectivity.

Lyonchoen hosted a banquet in honour of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh at the Royal Banquet Hall after the signing of Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.

PM Sheikh Hasina will join Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen to inaugurate the three-day the International Conference on Autism and Neuro Developmental Disorders today. The Prime Minister will also chair a high level discussion on “Enabling countries to successfully address autism and other neuro developmental disorders as part of their sustainable development goals” of the conference in the afternoon.

The Prime Minister will also unveil the foundation stone for the Chancery of the Bangladesh embassy at Hejo today.

In her first visit to the country, PM Sheikh Hasina visited Bhutan with a 48-member delegation on a four-day state visit in November 2009. It was also her first bilateral visit in the South Asian region since she was elected as prime minister in December 2008. The two countries signed the Bhutan-Bangladesh bilateral trade agreement on November 7, 2009.

Relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh go back to 1971 when Bangladesh emerged as an independent country. Diplomatic relations between the two countries was established in 1973 and resident missions were set up in 1980. Bhutan was among the first countries to recognise independent Bangladesh.

The visit is expected to provide an opportunity to renew and further strengthen the existing bonds of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and Bangladesh.

“These visits are important because they will provide further impetus to the close ties of friendship and cooperation and understanding between the two countries,” foreign minister Damcho Dorji told Bhutanese media in a recent meeting. “So we attach a lot of importance to this state visit.”

Tshering Palden