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16th SAARC Summit 2010 - Bhutan

19 April 2010

FULL AGENDA AHEAD FOR THE XVITH SAARC SUMMIT AND PRECEDING MEETINGS

1.The XVIth SAARC Summit (28-29th April 2010) will be attended by the Heads of State and Government of all 8 Member States of the Association.The Summit will also be attended by High Level dignitaries representing 9 Observer States.

2.The Heads of State and Government will consider and take decisions on a number of important issues of great regional significance during the Summit:

- The XVIth SAARC Summit coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the Association's founding, which will provide an appropriate occasion to reflect on the Association's achievements, and to chart a course for the future;

- Bhutan's proposal to adopt Climate Change as the theme for the XVIth SAARC Summit has been welcomed by all Member States.Bhutan will propose a Ministerial Statement to serve as a roadmap for the region's collective response to addressing this global phenomenon;

- The Summit Declaration, the principal outcome of the Summit, will provide crucial policy directives from the Leaders of Member States for the future direction of the Association;

- Important agreements in the field of environment and trade will also be before Leaders;

- The Permanent Secretariat of the SAARC Development Fund in Bhutan will be inaugurated at the opening of the Summit;

- As these and other important matters are discussed, the principals of Bhutan's development philosophy of Gross National Happiness will be submitted as a possible development model for the region.

3.The SAARC Summit is the highest authority of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.Bhutan will host, for the first time since its establishment, the XVIth SAARC Summit in Thimphu from 28-29th April 2010.The Summit will be preceded by a series of related meetings.The 32nd Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers at Foreign Minister's level will be held on 27th April, the 37th Session of the Standing Committee at Foreign Secretaries level will be convened from 25th to 26th April, and the 38th Session of the Programming committee at the Senior Officials level will meet on 24th April 2010.

Source: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIR , April 2010

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SAARC leaders arrive in Bhutan

Nepal's Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley during their bilateral talks held yesterday afternoon agreed that the bilateral discussions on the issue of the people in the camps in Nepal must be kept going.

At yesterday's brief meeting the two leaders also discussed a range of issues from playing a tremendous role in mitigating climate change effect by harnessing and exporting their huge hydropower potential and providing clean and green energy to the region to renewing air services and bilateral trade agreements besides the issue of the people in the camps.

Responding to a question from an American journalist on the people in the camps, at a press conference yesterday the minister in charge of foreign affairs, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, said that since the issue was not of a typical refugee issue, the two governments would be in the best position to find a lasting solution. "Regular dialogues and interactions are being held and we have agreed to pave a way forward for lasting solution," said the minister in charge. He said the two governments are using every opportunity to interact and discuss the issue to find a solution based on the understanding the two governments had reached.

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley also met with leaders from four SAARC countries -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan yesterday.

Meeting with the Bangladeshi president, Sheikh Hasina, the two leaders dwelt mainly on improving trading relations, including exploring avenues to create greater access to the Bangladeshi market through India. The two leaders also talked about higher education opportunities for Bhutanese students in Bangladesh, especially in medicine.

Pakistani prime minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, and Lyonchhen Jigmi Y thinley felt that the two countries must promote people-to-people contact, especially by further exploring the possibilities of using the birthplace of Guru Padmasambhava in Swat province, Pakistan, to draw Buddhist pilgrims from Bhutan. Pakistan could also learn from Bhutan in hydropower development, said Lyonchhoen.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said there was much in common between Bhutan and Afghanistan and that he was very much looking forward to visiting the Kingdom. He said Afghanistan was witnessing symptoms of climate change in myriad ways and that it being the theme for the SAARC summit was most appropriate and timely.

The discussions between Lyonchhen and the president of Maldives, Mohamad Nasheed, hinged primarily on climate change. They agreed to support initiatives intended to combat climate change as both countries were equally vulnerable to climate change impacts. President Nasheed urged Bhutan to keep up with its hydropower development policy as a means of clean and green energy that can remove the use of fossil fuels in the region.

Bhutan plans to host a Climate Change summit in 2011 in Thimphu amongst the four countries of Bhutan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh and informed the leaders accordingly.

Apart from the SAARC leaders, the prime minister also met with the leaders of delegations of observer countries to the SAARC summit. These included delegations from Japan, China, Australia, South Korea and the U.S..

Lyonchoen Jigmi Y Thinley expressed his appreciation to the SAARC leaders for coming to attend the 16th SAARC summit and said that the fact that they came to attend the summit in person, despite pressing works at home, reflected the great importance attached to ensuring the success of the summit.

He expressed hope that the informal setting created by Bhutan would bring the leaders together and closer beyond the official level so that it leads to true friendship, and builds trust and confidence.

Contributed by Ugyen Penjore, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, April 2010

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PM meets leaders of SAARC, observer countries

Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley met with the Heads of State or Government from five SAARC countries -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan -who arrived in the Kingdom today to attend the 16th SAARC summit which commences tomorrow.

After receiving the five leaders at Paro airport, Lyonchhen met with each leader separately in their respective houses at SAARC village where they discussed, among others, the summit, climate change, harnessing hydropower as an alternative to energy sourced from fossil fuels, bilateral relations and a host of other issues.

Lyonchhen said that the fact that the leaders came to attend the summit in person despite pressing works at home reflected the great importance attached to ensuring the success of the summit. He hoped that the informal setting created by Bhutan would bring the leaders together and closer beyond the official level so that it leads to true friendship, and builds trust and confidence in each other.

On the bilateral front, the scope of expanding and deepening Bhutan's relations with each these countries at various levels was discussed. With the Bangladeshi Prime Minster, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, the meeting dwelt mainly on improving trading relations, including exploring avenues to create greater access to the Bangladeshi market via India. The two leaders also talked about higher education opportunities for Bhutanese students in Bangladesh, especially in medicine.

Thinley felt that the two countries had much in common that could be used to benefit each other and strengthen the relationship further. Both the countries, they agreed, could play a tremendous role in mitigating climate change effects by harnessing and exporting their huge hydropower potential and providing clean and green energy to the region.

While agreeing that the bilateral discussions regarding the issue on the people in the camps in Nepal must be kept going, the two leaders also decided to quickly take up the need to renew the air services agreement and the bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.

The Pakistani Prime Minster H.E. Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley felt that the two countries must promote people-to-people contact, especially by further exploring the possibilities of using the birthplace of Guru Padmasambhava in Swat province, Pakistan, to draw Buddhist pilgrims from Bhutan.Pakistan could also learn from Bhutan in hydro-power development.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said there was much in common between Bhutan and Afghanistan and that he was very much looking forward to visiting the Kingdom. He said Afghanistan was witnessing symptoms of climate change in myriad ways and that it being the theme for the SAARC summit was most appropriate and timely.

The discussions between Lyonchhen and the President of Maldives, H. E. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, hinged primarily on climate change. They said that Bhutan was as vulnerable to climate change as Maldives and the two will support initiatives intended to combat it. The President of Maldives urged Bhutan to keep up with its hydropower development policy as a means of clean and green energy that can remove the use of fossil fuels in the region. Bhutan plans to host a Climate Change summit in 2011 in Thimphu between the four countries of Bhutan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh and informed the leaders accordingly.

Apart from the SAARC leaders, Lyonchhen met with the leaders of delegation of five observer countries to the SAARC summit. These were delegations from Japan, China, Australia, South Korea and the US.

Source: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIR , Bhutan, April 2010

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Australia attends South Asian summit in Bhutan

The Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, today reaffirmed Australia's commitment to promoting greater engagement with South Asia.

"We share common interests in democracy, security, trade and investment built on strong historical bonds," Mr McMullan said.

Australia's relationship with South Asia was confirmed with observer status at this week's 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Thimphu, Bhutan.

"Australia welcomed the opportunity to attend the SAARC Summit as a further step in enhancing our long standing and strong bilateral relations with the countries of South Asia," said Mr McMullan, who led Australia's delegation.

Discussions between SAARC's eight diverse member states-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka-this year focused on climate change in the region.

"SAARC is an important vehicle for greater economic and social development of its members states and by association, increased prosperity and stability in the region.

"We are keen to share our experiences with SAARC member states on key policy issues including climate change and food security," Mr McMullan said.

Mr McMullan announced that Australia will provide $1 million to improve water management and agricultural practices. This project assist agricultural centres in the region to advise farmers how to use their scarce water supplies efficiently for more productive harvests.

"Sharing our experiences in irrigated and dry-land farming will help farmers boost their yields and improve incomes for themselves and their families," Mr McMullan said.

Many of the poor people living in rural South Asia face possible water shortages for farming which will be aggravated by climate change.

Australia will also support member states address water security issues through a $3 million South Asia Water Initiative with the World Bank.

"By improving water management at a regional level, we can help communities across borders who face similar water management problems and rely on the same water sources for their livelihoods. To do this, it is important that we build upon Australia's strengthened ties with South Asia and promote the networks between our institutions," Mr McMullan said.

Australia will increase support for public sector organisations in South Asia and Australia to allow them to work together in areas of mutual interest. This assistance will total $15 million over five years.

Source: Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID); Government of Australia , April 2010

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Prime Minister's visit to Maldives 2011 His Majesty's visit to Bangladesh 2011
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