The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A useful visit

15 November, 2006 -Resolving the issue of the people in the camps in Nepal would be good for Bhutan and Nepal and for the people in the camps said the Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr. Richard A. Boucher, who is on a three-day visit to the kingdom from November 13 – 15.

Prime minister Khandu Wangchuk and Mr. Richard A. Boucher

Mr. Boucher said that the US government had made it clear that they would resettle more than 50,000 people in the camps in Nepal in the US.

“We want to contribute as we can and our offer to take 50,000 or more people is a part of that and we look for cooperation between Nepal and Bhutan and there are other countries that are willing to help out as well,” said Mr. Boucher.

However, Mr. Boucher pointed out that resettling the people in the camps in Nepal might take longer than just a few months because getting on the path to settling it was the hardest thing. “But once we get started with the resettlement we can know if we are headed in the right direction and eventually finish it.”

He said the progress of resettlement of the people in the camps depended, to some extent on the discussions between Nepal and Bhutan, besides what the United States could do or how soon it could be organised.

“We also need to work with the United Nations and the Nepalese government in actually setting up and moving these people,” Mr. Boucher told Kuensel.

Mr. Boucher said that he would be visiting Nepal on his way back and would discuss the same issue with the Nepalese government.

Mr. Boucher who received an audience with His Majesty the King yesterday said that the United States supported Bhutan’s move towards democracy and it admired the process Bhutan was going through to establish a stable basis for government through the use of democratic norms and participation by the people.

“You are going about this carefully but in a determined manner and that is all to your credit,” said Mr. Boucher. “We look forward to the success of this project.”

Mr. Boucher also met the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister and other senior government officials and discussed the country’s economic changes and how the country was going to develop, the role of tourism and private sector and the contribution of hydropower.

Although no formal diplomatic relations existed between the two countries the Assistant Secretary said that he saw a lot of potential areas of cooperation. “Whether economically or in terms of democratic process or disaster relief, wherever Bhutan needs our contribution we can do things to expand the relationship.”

Mr. Boucher said that he wanted to visit the country to find out personally about the circumstances and the plans and developments in the country.

“It was quite a useful visit and a learning experience,” Mr. Boucher told Kuensel. “I hope we have found ways that the United States can offer our support, encouragement and any expertise we have as you go through all the changes ahead.”

The Prime Minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, said that during his meeting with Mr. Boucher, they discussed the issue of the people in the camps in Eastern Nepal, on bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest.

He added that the visit would further cement the growing interaction between Bhutan and the United States.

By Samten Wangchuk

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