Visits Visits

Statement by the Prime Minister on the eve of his departure for Bhutan

April 27, 2010

I will be leaving tomorrow for Bhutan to attend the 16th SAARC Summit being hosted by Bhutan.

This Summit has special significance as it takes place on the twenty fifth anniversary of SAARC. This is also the first time that Bhutan will be hosting a SAARC Summit.

The establishment of SAARC in 1985 was a visionary step for the South Asian region. During this period the region has witnessed major transformation, and the idea of regional economic cooperation has taken firm roots. We have established a robust institutional framework for cooperation in diverse areas such as food security, poverty alleviation, terrorism, communication links, trade and economic, and a range of social issues impacting lives of our people. The South Asian Free Trade Agreement, the SAARC Development Fund and the South Asian University are some concrete examples of regional projects that will enable greater economic inter-linkages, and promote people to people contacts within the region.

The Summit will provide the countries of this region an opportunity to collectively reflect on where we are, what more we can do together to meet the developmental aspirations of our people, and how South Asia can play its rightful role in the international arena.

The winds of change are blowing across the world. South Asia cannot be immune to the trend of greater integration, both at the regional and global levels. If we as South Asians work together, there is nothing that we will not be able to achieve. India will play its part in the resurgence of South Asia.

The theme of this year's Summit is "Climate Change”. I look forward to discussing regional cooperation and strategies for tackling the effects of global warming in our region. Ours is a particularly vulnerable region, which demands a coordinated and well thought out response cutting across sectors. We all stand to benefit by learning from each other's experiences and strengths.

India enjoys close relations with Bhutan which are based on complete mutual trust and understanding. I look forward to holding bilateral discussions with the Prime Minister of Bhutan H.E. Jigmi Y. Thinley to build upon these solid foundations. I also look forward to my meetings with leaders of other SAARC countries.

New Delhi
April 27, 2010


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