BRICS-BIMSTEC: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit in Goa, India, yesterday.

Lyonchoen arrived in Goa on October 15 for the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), Bay of Bangal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, (BIMSTEC) outreach summit. Leaders of both BRICS and BIMSTEC are attending the summit.

Welcoming Lyonchoen and his delegates to India, PM Narendra Modi conveyed his well wishes to His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, HRH The Gyalsey and the Royal Family of Bhutan.

Lyonchoen thanked PM Narendra Modi for inviting the BIMSTEC countries for an outreach summit with BRICS and said that this will provide a good platform to boost ties between the two groupings. “This shows your focus for regional development,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen also thanked PM Narendra Modi and the external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj for the Indian government’s assistance for bringing the image of Zhabdrung from the Asiatic Society Museum in Kolkata to Bhutan, as Bhutanese celebrate 400 years of Zhabdrung’s arrival in Bhutan and the Birth of HRH The Gyalsey.

Lyonchoen expressed concerns on the deteriorating security situation in the region. PM Narendra Modi thanked and expressed gratitude to Bhutan for showing solidarity during such a time.

On the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement, Lyonchoen shared with PM Narendra Modi that the 7th session of the Second Parliament had ratified the agreement and that it has been sent to the National Council for endorsement.

Lyonchoen also shared with PM Narendra Modi that basic e-Library equipment have been set up in a total of eight colleges, two medical colleges and 61 schools. PM Narendra Modi launched the e-Library project during his maiden visit to Bhutan soon after assuming office. Lyonchoen and PM Narendra Modi also discussed the ongoing hydropower projects, development cooperation and other areas of mutual interest.

Lyonchoen also met with Nepal’s PM Puspa Kamal Dahal on October 16. Lyonchoen congratulated the PM of Nepal on his election as Prime Minister by its Constituent Assembly in August this year.

Lyonchoen also wished PM Puspa Kamal Dahal and his delegates a “belated happy dasain” and shared that on the command of His Majesty The King, Hindu mandirs or temples for the Hindu community in Bhutan are being built. “One mandir has already been built in the south and one is under construction in Thimphu” Lyonchoen said.

PM Puspa Kamal Dahal said the two countries share many similarities and that there are also many areas for cooperation between Bhutan and Nepal.

He thanked Bhutan for the rescue initiatives during the earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

“Living in the same region, we have to come together in times of disaster,” Lyonchoen told the Nepalese PM.

Lyonchoen informed PM Puspa Kamal Dahal about Nepal’s participation at the 13th SAARC Trade Fair held from September 8-12 in Thimphu and the Tour of the Dragon. Lyonchoen said that it is important to facilitate such people-to-people contact.

Both the Prime Ministers agreed that through the BBIN agreement, sub-regional initiatives could be taken forward. The meeting also saw discussion on trade and hydropower, among others.

In his meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Lyonchoen thanked the government and people of Sri Lanka for gifting Bhutan with a Bodhi Tree sapling coinciding with the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo last year and informed the President that the sapling had been planted in an ideal location (Takila, Lhuentse) on the occasion of the Birth of HRH The Gyalsey.

Lyonchhen and the President discussed possibilities of training Bhutanese doctors as specialists in Sri Lanka, and exchange visits of monks from the two countries for pilgrimage, among others.

Lyonchoen also met with the President of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wazwed for lunch before leaving for the BIMSTEC leaders retreat.

Lyonchoen presented a five minute remark at the BIMSTEC leaders retreat in the afternoon.

Lyonchoen will fly to Paro via Delhi today.

Nima Wangdi | Goa