30 Apr : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday wrapped up his three-day visit to Bhutan which saw India and Pakistan agreeing to move ahead with the stalled peace talks, the PM was in Thimphu to participate in the 16th SAARC Summit.
Singh left on Friday morning for New Delhi from Paro International airport, about 60 km from Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital.
Singh was in Thimphu to participate in the 16th SAARC Summit where leaders vowed to root out terrorism and signed a trade agreement aimed at opening new vistas in economic integration.
Singh also met his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the summit where they decided to keep the channels of dialogue open to restore “trust and confidence“.
The Prime Minister also met leaders from countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and discussed the bilateral issues.
On Friday, Singh held bilateral talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Thinley during which the two countries signed implementation agreements for Punatsangchhu-II and Mangdechhu hydroelectric project with a combined capacity of 1710 MW.
The agreements were signed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Bhutanese counterpart Khandu Wangchuk in the presence of the two Prime Ministers.
Taking India-Bhutan ties a step further; the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of a state-of-the-art medical college and launched a project that would make half of the population of this tiny nation computer literate in the next five years.
Singh and Thinley unveiled the foundation stones of the Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences and that of the two hydroelectric projects.
Singh also had an audience with fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and shared views on the just-concluded SAARC Summit and praised the “splendid” hospitality extended by Bhutan.
16th SAARC Summit concludes: Member-countries vow to eliminate terrorism
The two-day SAARC Summit concluded at Thimphu in Bhutan with member countries vowing to root out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The Eight-member grouping of South Asian nations also pledged to infuse new dynamism to its activities for the region’s development.
Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration has noted that SAARC had not achieved its potential even 25 years after coming into being.
They decided to have a Vision Statement and set up a forum of experts which will provide inputs for charting out its future course in the medium and long run.
After detailed deliberations over issues like security, trade, climate change, enery, food security, poverty-alleviation and disaster management, the Summit issued a declaration — Towards a Green and Happy South Asia, which spelt out a slew of initiatives to bring about overall development of the region.
The Leaders also strongly condemned terrorism and reiterated their firm resolve to root out the menace.
The countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka reaffirmed their commitment to implement the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol and SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The SAARC leaders also recognized in this regard the value of the proposed UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and noted the progress made during the recent rounds of negotiations and called for an early conclusion of the Convention.
The leaders also welcomed the signing of the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services during the Summit and hoped that it would open up new vistas of trade cooperation and further deepen the integration of the regional economies.
They called for the early ratification of the Agreement. The member countries reiterated their commitment to implement SAFTA in letter and spirit.
Pakistan has refused to implement the agreement in relation to India and insists on trading on the basis of Positive List of items.
Briefing media persons, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that SAARC Declaration at the 25th anniversary of the Summit emphasises the need for a collective approach to the common problems faced by the region.