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Joint Statement on the State Visit of H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, to the Kingdom of Bhutan from 18-20 April 2017

1. At the invitation of H.E. Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh paid a State Visit to Bhutan from 18-20 April 2017. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh was accompanied by H.E. Mr.Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Foreign Minister, H.E. Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Adviser to Prime Minister on International Affairs and other senior officials of the Government of Bangladesh.

2. The visit to Bhutan by H.E. Sheikh Hasina is highly significant as it reinforces the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and upholds and strengthens friendship between Bhutan and Bangladesh

3. H.E. Sheikh Hasina was received by H.E. Tshering Tobgay and senior Government officials on arrival at Paro International Airport. H.E. Sheikh Hasina was presented with the Guard of Honour and greeted by hundreds of school students.

4. H.E. Sheikh Hasina was escorted in a traditional ceremonial procession on arrival at Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu and presented the ceremonial guard of honour, followed by an audience with His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan, and Her Majesty Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan, also granted audience to H.E. Sheikh Hasina.

5. His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen hosted a private dinner for H.E. Sheikh Hasina at Lingkana Palace on 19th April 2017.

6. H.E. Tshering Tobgay hosted a banquet in honour of H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 18th April 2017.

7. H.E. Sheikh Hasina met her Bhutanese counterpart H.E. Tshering Tobgay on 18th April 2017. The two Prime Ministers held wide-ranging discussions aimed at boosting the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed that relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh are based on friendly ties and reflective of their common aspiration for peace, collective prosperity and development of the region and beyond.

8. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh recalled with gratitude Bhutan’s invaluable support to Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971 and that Bhutan was the first country to recognize Bangladesh on 6 December 1971.

9. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh mentioned about the genocide and atrocities committed by the Pakistan occupation forces in 1971. The Bhutanese side expressed understanding and sympathized with the suffering and sorrow endured by the people of Bangladesh.

10. The Prime Minister of Bhutan recalled the inspiring leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who left the legacy for the socio-economic advancement of Bangladesh for his vision of “Sonar Bangla”, which under the leadership of H.E. Sheikh Hasina is being realized.

11. The two Prime Ministers recalled the strong historical ties of friendship and understanding that exist between Bhutan and Bangladesh, which was laid by His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their commitments to further consolidate the bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two friendly neighbouring countries. They discussed many areas of cooperation including hydro-power, water resources, trade and commerce, connectivity, tourism, culture, education, health, ICT, and agriculture.

12. The two Prime Ministers noted the expanding bilateral trade between the two countries and acknowledged its importance in further cementing the friendship between the two countries. The Prime Minister of Bhutan thanked Prime Minister Hasina for taking a number of measures including opening of Land Customs Stations namely Tamabil-Dawki and Nakuagaon-Dalu, Gobrakura and Koroitoli-Gasuaparaand resolving duty exemption issues on Lime Stone Powder, Gypsum and Calcium Carbonate export to Bangladesh which will further enhance bilateral trade with Bangladesh. Bangladesh side also offered to export more products such as ready-made garments, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, jute and allied products, leather goods, toiletries, agricultural produce to Bhutan. Bhutanese side agreed to facilitate entry of these products into its market. They also agreed to further promote trade and investments between the two countries.

13. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of MoU on Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh which will provide connectivity with Chittagong and Mongla ports. They expressed hope that this will open up further opportunities of bilateral trade between the two countries and beyond.

14. The two Prime Ministers emphasized the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in the areas of power, water resources, and connectivity for mutual benefit. Recognizing the importance of enhancing regional connectivity, both sides agreed to work bilaterally and sub-regionally towards that end. They also welcomed the proposed Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Bangladesh, Bhutan and India for Cooperation in the field of Hydroelectric Power on the principles of agreed regional framework. They expressed the hope that this MOU could be signed at an occasion when leaders of all three countries would meet next.

15. The two Prime Ministers recognized the importance of BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional connectivity and expressed their desire towards an early operationalization of the Agreement.

16. H.E. Tshering Tobgay congratulated Prime Minister Hasina for the success of the 136th IPU Assembly in Dhaka from April 1-5, 2017.The two Prime Ministers noted with pleasure the regular exchanges between Bangladeshi and Bhutanese parliamentarians and encouraged them to further enhance their interaction.

17. The two sides also exchanged views on cooperation in other regional and international fora including BIMSTEC, SAARC and the UN and noted the commonality of their views and positions on all major issues and agreed to continue to work together for greater peace, prosperity and development in the region and beyond.

18. Recalling the ancient cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries, both sides agreed to cooperate in the tourism sector to maximize its potential. The two sides agreed to encourage exchange of visits of representatives of the tourism industry led by senior government officials.

19. H.E. Sheikh Hasina commended the vision of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan in instituting the Bhutan Health Trust Fund for the provision of free essential drugs and vaccines to the people of Bhutan. The Bangladesh side agreed to explore cooperation in support to the Fund which was appreciated by H.E. Tshering Tobgay.

20. H.E. Tshering Tobgay thanked the Government of Bangladesh for providing opportunities for Bhutanese students to pursue higher education especially in the field of medicine. H.E. Sheikh Hasina assured the continued support of Bangladesh to further enhance cooperation with Bhutan in education.

21. H.E. Tshering Tobgay commended Bangladesh’s advancement in the ICT sector. The two Prime Ministers agreed to explore cooperation in ICT, including sharing of internet redundancy and establishment of data centers.

22. H.E. Sheikh Hasina and H.E. Tshering Tobgay addressed the inaugural session of the International Conference on Autism & Neuro-developmental Disorders on 19 April 2017. The inaugural session was graced by the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. The conference was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health of Bhutan, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh, WHO-SEARO, Ability Bhutan Society and the Suchona Foundation. The two sides commended the leadership role of Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson, National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders, Bangladesh, in championing the cause of autism globally.

23. Bhutan gifted a plot of land measuring 1.5 acres to Bangladesh for construction of its Embassy at the diplomatic enclave at Hejo, Thimphu. H.E Sheikh Hasina unveiled the foundation stone for the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. His Majesty The King of Bhutan graced the ceremony.

24. Bhutan and Bangladesh signed the following Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings:

i. Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect of Taxes on Income;

ii. Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

iii. Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Allotment of Land under Hejo Samtenling Local Area Plan (Lap) for Construction of Bangladesh Embassy Premises in Bhutan;

iv. Deed for “Use Right” of Land under Hejo Samtenling Local Area Plan(Lap) for Construction of Bangladesh Embassy Premises in Bhutan;

v. MoU between Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB), Royal Government of Bhutan and Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI), Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

vi. MoU on Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

vii. MoU between Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), Bhutan and Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD), Comilla, Bangladesh;

viii. MoU between Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan and the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

25. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked the Royal Government of Bhutan for the warm hospitality extended to her and the members of her delegation during their visit to Bhutan.

26. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended an invitation to His Majesty The King and Queen to visit Bangladesh at a mutually convenient time. She also invited Prime Minister of Bhutan to visit Bangladesh. H.E. Tshering Tobgay thanked H.E. Sheikh Hasina for the gracious invitation.

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