An old friend

The Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina Wazed will be coming on a three day state visit to Bhutan.

While the visit will be a warm and important one built on decades of close friendship between the two countries, the latest visit is also in the backdrop of evolving ties between the two nations.

Both countries are becoming more confident and acquiring more diplomatic and economic heft in the region. More importantly, this diplomatic and economic rise is also closely linked to each other.

Bangladesh is the only other Resident Embassy in Thimphu and an increasingly active one over the years. Both countries closely cooperate with each other in regional forums and have a good regard for each other.

From Bhutan’s end, a lot of the initial work was done by His Majesty The Third King whose government was not only the first to recognize Bangladesh out of a deep empathy, but it was also His Majesty The Third King who led from the front in organizing relief efforts.

Over the decades His Majesty The Fourth King for a while and now His Majesty The King have played an important role in nurturing and consolidating this relationship.

On the economic front trade and exports have been increasing to Bangladesh over the years, which is a market for many Bhutanese products. Of late both countries in cooperation with India are also working on doing a mega project together.

In a region of giants some commentators often compare Bangladesh to larger neighbors and call it a small or medium country, but in reality, at the international level, Bangladesh is a big country enjoying high economic growth and rapid development.

What makes Bangladesh even more important for Bhutan is that it is our immediate neighbor and so the potentials are limitless. Bangladesh proposing to invest in a mega project in Bhutan shows both the potential of the relationship and the confidence on both sides.

The proposed MoU on hydropower between Bangladesh, Bhutan and India is also a positive development and an example of what can happen when neighbors get along.

Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.
 H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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