Bonding Beyond Borders: King of Bhutan Makes Landmark Visit to Bangladesh

His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan  visited  Bangladesh from 25 to 28 March 2024, at the invitation of the Hon’ble President of Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Shahabuddin. His Majesty The King was accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, Queen of Bhutan, His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck, and Her Royal Highness Gyalsem Sonam Yangden Wangchuck. Ministers and senior officials of the Royal Government of Bhutan were also part of the Royal Entourage. The visit of His Majesty The King to Bangladesh is a testament of the close ties of friendship and goodwill that so happily exist between the two countries.

His Majesty The King was received by the Hon’ble President of Bangladesh, on arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. King Jigme was presented with a Guard of Honour and greeted by members of the Cabinet and senior officials of the Bangladesh Government.

The King of Bhutan His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, is received by Hon’ble President of Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Shahabuddin

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen visited the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on 25th March 2024 to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh H. E. Dr. Hasan Mahmud MP called on His Majesty The King on 25th March 2024.

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen attended the celebration of Independence and National Day of Bangladesh on 26th March 2024 as the Special Guest. Their Majesties paid a  tribute to the memory of the sacrifices of the heroic freedom fighters of Bangladesh at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar, which  included the laying of a wreath, signing the visitors’ book, and planting of a sapling.

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen will meet with the Hon’ble President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh at Bangabhaban. Hon. President of Bangladesh  hosted a banquet on 26th March 2024 in honour of His Majesty The King.

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen met with H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 25th March 2024.

Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck engages in high-level talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, fostering bilateral relations and cooperation

The following Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed during the visit: a. MoU between Bangladesh and Bhutan for Cooperation on the establishment of a Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit in Thimphu and Health Cooperation. b. MoU between Bangladesh and Bhutan for Cooperation on establishing Bhutanese Special Economic Zone in Kurigram, Bangladesh by Bhutan c. MoU between the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection of Bangladesh and the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority of Bhutan.

The following Agreement was renewed: Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan on Cultural cooperation.

Both sides expressed satisfaction that the annual intake of Bhutanese students for admission to MBBS in public medical colleges of Bangladesh has been increasing gradually. To further consolidate the existing momentum of cooperation, Bangladesh offered to increase the number of annual MBBS seats for Bhutanese students from 22 (twenty-two) to 30 (thirty).

Both sides emphasized on strengthening the cooperation on capacity building between the Government officials of the two countries. As part of that, Bangladesh: a) Offered 2 seats to the Bhutanese Foreign Service Officers every year at the Foreign Service Academy of Bangladesh – the Diplomatic Training Institute for capacity building. b) The Foreign Service Academy would also like to extend necessary assistance to Bhutan in setting up a Diplomatic Training Institute in Bhutan for their diplomats. c) Offered special training to 3 batches of 7-10 Bhutanese Officials each year in Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). d) Gifted electronic devices (tabs and laptops) Made in Bangladesh with a view to contributing to the capacity building and skill development for the government officials of Bhutan as a special gesture of goodwill and friendship.

During the official meeting, the two sides expressed happiness on the current state of relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan, which is a very special one based on common history, geographical proximity, and the shared aspiration of the people for prosperity and development.

King Jigme expressed his deep appreciation for the cordial welcome and warm hospitality extended to Him and the members of His delegation during their stay in Bangladesh.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan paid tribute to the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum (Dhanmondi 32, Dhaka)

Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh recalled with gratitude the invaluable support of His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the Third King of Bhutan and the people of Bhutan during Bangladesh’s War of Independence. Hon’ble Prime Minister fondly recalled Bhutan being the first country to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country on 6th December 1971. Both Bangladesh and Bhutan recognized with deep satisfaction the manner in which the historic ties between Bangladesh and Bhutan have evolved over the years into a mutually beneficial relationship. They stated that the kinship, which is based on goodwill, friendship, and understanding, is an example of good neighborliness, mutual respect, and cooperation.

Both sides expressed happiness that Bangladesh and Bhutan signed the Agreement on the Movement of Traffic-in-Transit and its Protocol in March 2023 which will usher in new horizons for bilateral trade and connectivity. The Agreement and its Protocol will not only be phenomenal for bilateral trade but also will work as a platform for paving the way for an interconnected South Asia.

Both sides noted that regional and sub-regional connectivity are important means of economic integration and enhancing trade and commerce. They noted with satisfaction that the collaborative efforts between the two sides in connectivity through roads, rail, and waterways will strengthen bilateral ties as well as foster regional integration and economic growth in South Asia.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the increasing trend in trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan in recent years. They expressed satisfaction on the recent initiatives between the two countries for facilitating trade such as Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) – the first of its kind for the two countries, and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for seamless use of the inland waterways of Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud holds a meeting with His Majesty the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at a city hotel on Monday, March 25, 2024

Bhutan conveyed its appreciation to Bangladesh for offering the ‘Special Economic Zone’ in ‘Kurigram’ in the northern part of Bangladesh, which is 190 kms from the southern city of Gelephu, Bhutan. It is a matter of happiness that an MOU has been signed in this regard by the authorities of Bangladesh and Bhutan. During the visit, His Majesty The King will visit the Special Economic Zone in Kurigram. The economic zone will add a new horizon in the area of bilateral trade and investment between the two countries and also achieve greater prosperity in the South Asia region.

The power and energy sector provides an important area for cooperation between Bangladesh and Bhutan. In this regard, both sides underscored the importance of strengthening subregional cooperation in the energy sector among Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.

Both sides acknowledged that regional cooperation is very important for shared peace and prosperity in the region. They noted that the two countries should work together in the regional organizations like SAARC and BIMSTEC to ensure greater regional cooperation.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the growing trend of cooperation between the two countries in the area of health and education. His Majesty The King will visit Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn & Plastic Surgery in Dhaka on 26th March 2024 and interact with the officials, doctors and students there. Bangladesh is going to establish a burn and plastic surgery unit in Thimphu which will be another milestone in the bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Bhutan in the health sector.

Both sides expressed satisfaction that there has beenexemplary people-to-people contact between Bangladesh and Bhutan for decades. They reiterated to further strengthen the people[1]to-people contact between Bangladesh and Bhutan by connecting the Himalayas in Bhutan with the longest sea beach in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and Bhutan have signed three new memoranda of understanding (MoUs). Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the MoU signing held at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)

Both sides expressed happiness on Bhutan’s recent graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) status. Bangladesh has also completed all the procedures for graduation from LDC and is expected to graduate from LDC status in 2026. Both sides agreed that the two countries can work together in the post-graduation context to collaborate with each other for addressing the related challenges to ensure greater benefits for the peoples of the two countries.

During the visit, King Jigme will visit the Padma Bridge, a monumental infrastructural feat constructed entirely through the self-financing efforts of the Bangladesh government. This remarkable infrastructure project stands as a testament to Bangladesh’s commitment to advancing connectivity and fostering economic growth. King Jigme will also visit a Special Economic Zone in Araihazar to witness firsthand the infrastructure and facilities there. While in Dhaka, His Majesty The King will also meet and interact with the Bangladesh business leaders and potential investors to explore new avenues for economic and commercial ties between the two countries.

The State Visit of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen to Bangladesh has further strengthened the traditional ties of friendship, cooperation and goodwill between the two countries. His Majesty The King of Bhutan extended invitations to the Hon’ble President and the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh to visit Bhutan.

Written by-

AKM Sayedad Hossain
Associate Editor, Diplomats World Publication

 

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