Highlights of 2021: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The national flag being hoisted at the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Canberra, Australia to mark the 114th National Day

SHERAB DORJI

Thimphu

At the beginning of the year, the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue was held virtually under the theme “The New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism,” hosted by the Republic of Turkey. The Bhutanese delegation, was led by Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji.

In other developments, the Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering launched, ‘Building a Bhutan Integrated National Financing Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and Gross National Happiness’ to commemorate the 5oth anniversary of Bhutan’s membership to the United Nations.    

Further, a grant was signed between the Ambassador of Bhutan to Japan Vestop Namgyel and Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan Satoshi Suzuki to provide Yen 8.67 million to RENEW for the project-procurement of transfer bus for women’s shelter home in Wangsisna, Thimphu.

The Prime Minister also paid a State Visit to Bangladesh from 23-25 March as the Special Representative of His Majesty the king to celebrate the birth centenary of the father of the Nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

In preparation for the 5thBay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit, the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting was held virtually by the Government of Sri Lanka led by Foreign Minister (Dr.) Tandi Dorji, Foreign Secretary and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Meanwhile, during the 10th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Bhutan-China Boundary talks held in Kunming, China, the delegations discussed a roadmap to expedite the Bhutan-China Boundary Talks. The Bhutanese delegation was led by Letho Tobdhen Tangbi, Secretary of the International Boundaries, and the Chinese delegation by Hong Liang, Director General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

In addition, recognizing “Efforts of the International Community to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050,” Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering participated in the 2021 P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030) Summit that was hosted virtually by the Republic of Korea on the invitation of H.E. Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Tandi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Environment Commission, and Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘Cooperation in the Areas of Environment’.

The MoU renews cooperation and collaboration and further strengthens and expands the areas of cooperation in the field of environment such as air, waste, chemical management and climate change.

In other developments, the ITE-Education Services of Singapore promised to provide technical assistance to MoLHR in developing Modal Technical Training Centers (MTTC) as per the MoU signed virtually between Sonam Tobgay, Director, Department of Bilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Simon Wong, Ambassador of Singapore to Bhutan in New Delhi.  

Further, during the 16th Annual Consultations between Bhutan and Japan on Economy, the two sides discussed the status of Japan’s assistance to Bhutan, Needs Survey 2021 and progress report on Mid-term Review of the 12th Five Year Plan.

In addition, foreign Secretary Kinga Singye led the Bhutanese delegation for the 47th Consultative Committee Meeting (CCM) of the Colombo Plan which virtually discussed the progress in economic, social and technical cooperation.

The signing between Foreign Secretary, Kinga Singye and Ruchira Kamboj, Ambassador of India to Bhutan has formally approved the reprioritization of the 12th FYP project-tied assistance (PTA) projects during the Minutes of the Third Bhutan-India Development Cooperation Talks for the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP). 

Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji also outlined Bhutan’s plans, priorities and aspirations to have greater effort, cooperation and solidarity of the global community in the fight against climate change during the virtual conference of  European Union (EU) – Indo Pacific High Level Conference on Climate Change Cooperating Towards a Successful Outcome at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

The Three-Step Roadmap for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations was signed virtually between the Foreign Minister of Bhutan, Dr Tandi Dorji and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, H.E. Wu Jianghao. 

Foreign Secretary Ambassador, Pema Choden participated in the 2021 Seoul United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial held virtually from 7-8 December hosted by the Government of Republic of Korea.

Meanwhile, His Majesty the King granted dhar to Zimpon Wogma Chitem Tenzin and Haa Dzongda Kinzang Dorji as the Ambassadors-designate, to Kuwait and Thailand respectively. In addition Sonam Tobgay was appointed as the Ambassador-designate of Bhutan to Australia followed by Ambasaador Pema Choden as the new Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.