Following the presentation of Bhutan’s 7th Periodic Report to the CEDAW Committee at the UN Headquarters in New York, H.E. Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Washington DC from 27 to 28 July 2009 to meet with senior US lawmakers and well-wishers of Bhutan. The visit was made in response to an invitation extended to Lyonpo by Congressional delegations visiting Bhutan. Lyonpo was accompanied by Ambassador Lhatu Wangchuk of the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York.
Lyonpo held meetings with Senator McCain and Senator Joseph Lieberman. Lyonpo also had a luncheon meeting with Mr. Brian Baird, US House Representative, and several other prominent Representatives. Some of the lawmakers had visited Bhutan while others had learnt about Bhutan from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which had Bhutan as its focus country in 2008. One of the Representatives included Mr. Reyes of El Paso, which has an entire university campus built in traditional Bhutanese architecture and now hosts the largest number of Bhutanese students in the US. Lyonpo also met with Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey and Ambassador Richard Boucher, both former officials of the US State Department, who have been closely associated with South Asia.
Lyonpo exchanged views with the US lawmakers on areas of mutual interest. Lyonpo informed the lawmakers that under the leadership of His Majesty the King, Bhutan’s democratic transition was smooth and successful. He also briefed them about the socio- economic development of the country and the implementation of Gross National Happiness. The US lawmakers expressed their admiration for the Bhutanese Monarchs for their leadership and guidance in introducing democracy in Bhutan. They also commended Bhutan for its commitment to environmental preservation and for undertaking hydropower projects that would contribute to reducing global warming, which is now a serious concern for the entire international community. The US lawmakers and Lyonpo discussed the desirability of increasing scholarships for Bhutanese students to study in US educational institutions given its success in the past.
The US lawmakers and Lyonpo agreed that such exchange of visits will contribute to further strengthening friendship and understanding between Bhutan and the US.
Lyonpo conveyed Bhutan’s deep commitment to be a responsible and respected member of the international community.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
29 July 2009