Bhutan concerned over terrorist elements outside Sri Lanka

Saturday, 20 November 2010 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Thinley yesterday expressed concerns over the presence of certain elements of the LTTE in some parts of the world.

By Sunimalee Dias

However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had expressed his commitment to ensure there were no grounds for any section of society to be concerned about this, while noting he would truly restore peace in the country.

This was stated during Rajapaksa’s meeting with the visiting Prime Minister, who is also the SAARC Chairperson. The Prime Minister is currently in Colombo as a special guest of honour at the second swearing-in ceremony of the President.

Prior to calling on President Rajapaksa, the senior monks from the Bhutanese Dratshang offered ‘Mendrel Ku Sung Thukten’ for the long life and good fortune of the Sri Lankan people at the Presidential Secretariat.

Thinley, addressing the media, said he was pleased to be in Sri Lanka in the post war era and commended President Rajapaksa and the Government.

He asserted that “in a short while we will see Sri Lanka achieving its potential”. Commenting on the joint tourism cooperation between the two countries, he said this could be further explored in the area of promoting Buddhist tourism by encouraging travellers to visit a landlocked country in the Himalayas and an island nation for another unique spiritual experience in a different environment.

The visiting Prime Minister observed that while the two sides did not have time to dwell on bilateral discussions due to President Rajapaksa’s tight schedule, they had both expressed concerns over the current security situation in Afghanistan. However, Thinley noted there was little the two countries could do directly even as SAARC member states to assist in finding a solution except for a catalytic role.

Thinley is scheduled to return to Bhutan on Sunday. It is a tradition in SAARC for the Chair to visit the Member States and the Prime Minister has already visited India and is expected to visit other countries in due course.

Meanwhile, on the invitation of the Government, the senior monks accompanied by Bhutanese Ambassador Dasho Bap Kesang will be visiting holy Buddhist sites in the country, including Kandy and Anuradhapura.

Bhutanese PM calls on native students

Bhutanese students in Colombo studying for medical degrees were yesterday met by their Prime Minister during the latter’s visit to Sri Lanka.

About 40 students are currently studying in the Peradeniya, Colombo and Kelaniya Universities in a bid to fill the dearth in the medical profession in Bhutan.

Prime Minister Jigme Thinley observed that they had a dearth of doctors back home and it was essential that these students fulfil their purpose and return to help the economy grow.

Noting the country’s change towards democracy and the changing demands of the people, it was pointed out that Bhutan was currently doing its best to assist these students with increased student stipends for their livelihood. Bhutanese students are reportedly studying in other neighbouring countries like India and Nepal as well.

Education Minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel said Bhutan had signed an MoU with these Sri Lankan universities as a result of which about five to 15 students were able to gain admission each year according to availability.