H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) paid a visit to Bhutan from 13 to 14 January 2014.
During the visit, the Secretary-General paid a courtesy call on His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King ofBhutan. During the meeting, the Secretary-General apprised His Majesty the King of Bhutan about the current status of regional cooperation, with particular reference to intra-regional trade and connectivity. His Majesty the King expressed Bhutan’s unequivocal support to the SAARC process for the common good of the peoples in the region.
The Secretary-General called on H. E. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan during the visit. In his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary-General informed the Prime Minister of the latest initiatives of SAARC in several agreed areas of regional cooperation. The Prime Minister expressed his Government’s unwavering commitment to the strengthening of regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC.
During the visit, the Secretary-General also called on H. E. Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The Minister and the Secretary-General exchanged views on matters of common interest, particularly SAARC and its diverse agenda of cooperation. They also discussed matters pertaining to the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers and its preceding meetings to be held in the Maldives from 17 to 20 February 2014. The Minister hosted a dinner in honour of the Secretary-General in which senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Executive Heads of SAARC regional institutions attended.
While in Thimphu, the Secretary-General also met H. E. Dasho Yeshey Dorji, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Government of Bhutan and discussed issues pertaining to SAARC. Matters relating to the Special Session of the Standing Committee scheduled for 17 February 2014 in the Maldives figured prominently during the discussions. In keeping with the directive of the Seventeenth SAARC Summit, the Committee is expected to consider the entire gamut of issues vis-à-vis SAARC’s engagement with its Observers. During the meeting, the Secretary-General also apprised the Foreign Secretary about the Comprehensive Study undertaken by the Secretariat in strengthening SAARC’s mechanisms, including the SAARC Secretariat, Regional Centres and Specialized Bodies of SAARC.
While in Thimphu, the Secretary-General paid a visit to the SAARC Forestry Centre and the SABAH project, funded by the SAARC Development Fund based in Thimphu, Bhutan.
The Secretary-General was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Ayesha Manike and Mr. Singye Dorjee, Director, SAARC Secretariat.