Bangladesh and Bhutan have reaffirmed to further consolidate bilateral ties and agreed to work bilaterally and sub- regionally to boost cooperation in the areas of power, water resources, and connectivity for mutual benefit.
A joint statement issued after the three-day state visit of prime minister Sheikh Hasina to Bhutan said on Thursday that the two countries also agreed to continue to work together for greater peace, prosperity and development in the region and beyond.
The 26-point statement said prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Dshao Tshering Tobgay during their bilateral meeting emphasised the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in the areas of power, water resources, and connectivity for mutual benefit.
"Recognising the importance of enhancing regional connectivity, both sides agreed to work bilaterally and sub-regionally towards that end," said the statement.
They also welcomed the proposed Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bangladesh, Bhutan and India for Cooperation in the field of Hydro-electric 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.
The two prime ministers recognised the importance of BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional connectivity and expressed their desire towards an early operationalisation of the agreement.
The two prime ministers recalled the strong historical ties of friendship and understanding that exist between Bhutan and Bangladesh, which was laid by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and 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 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.
The two premiers discussed many areas of cooperation including hydropower, water resources, trade and commerce, connectivity, tourism, culture, education, health, ICT, and agriculture, it added.
The statement said the two sides 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.
Bangladesh side offered to export more products such as readymade 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.
The Bhutanese prime minister thanked prime minister Sheikh Hasina for taking a number of measures including opening of Land Customs Stations namely Tamabil-Dawki and Nakuagaon-Dalu, Gobrakura and Koroitoli-Gasuapara and resolving duty exemption issues on Lime Stone Powder, Gypsum and Calcium Carbonate export to Bangladesh which will further enhance bilateral trade with Bangladesh.
Recalling the ancient cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries, both sides also agreed to cooperate in the tourism sector to maximise its potential.
The statement said 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.
Bhutanese prime minister Tshering Tobgay commended Bangladesh's advancement in the ICT sector, while the two leaders agreed to explore cooperation in ICT, including sharing of internet redundancy and establishment of data centres. The statement said recalling with gratitude Bhutan's invaluable support to Bangladesh's Liberation War of 1971, Sheikh Hasina said Bhutan was the first country to recognise Bangladesh on 6 December 1971.
The Bangladesh prime minister mentioned the genocide and atrocities committed by the Pakistan occupation forces in 1971, it said adding that the Bhutanese side expressed understanding and sympathised with the suffering and sorrow endured by the people of Bangladesh.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina extended an invitation to the King and Queen to visit Bangladesh at a mutually convenient time. She also invited prime minister of Bhutan to visit Bangladesh.