Vivian Balakrishnan reaffirms S'pore-Bhutan ties

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/ FACEBOOK

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan reaffirmed the warm bilateral relations between Singapore and Bhutan, and discussed ways to expand bilateral cooperation during his introductory visit to the kingdom.

In a Facebook post on Monday, he wrote that he was honoured to meet King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

They met at the Tashichhodzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress in Bhutan's capital city of Thimphu that has traditionally been the seat of the head of Bhutan's civil government.

Dr Balakrisnan said: "His Majesty knows us very well and follows Singapore's development closely.

"We had a candid discussion on developments in Bhutan. His Majesty shared his vision of restructuring Bhutan's economy while preserving the rich culture and identity of the Bhutanese," he added. "Singapore is happy to contribute to His Majesty's vision for Bhutan's development. There is much that both countries can do together."

The minister and Bhutan Minister for Labour and Human Resources Ngeema Sangay Tshempo witnessed the signing of an agreement between Singapore's Institute of Technical Education Services and the Bhutanese Ministry of Labour and Human Resources on collaboration in the field of technical and vocational education and training.

He also called on Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, met Minister for Economic Affairs Leki Dorji and Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs Dawa Gyaltshen, and attended a reception hosted by Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji.

Dr Balakrishnan presented books to Mr Gyaltshen as part of a handover ceremony for a donation of 1,000 books from the Singapore National Library Board to the Bhutan National Library and Archives. "I hope that these books will help to promote reading among the Bhutanese children and youth," he said in a separate Facebook post.

At meetings during his visit, Dr Balakrishnan announced a training programme by Singapore Health Services for Bhutanese healthcare professionals in emergency medic- ine, and a clinical attachment for ear, nose and throat doctors.

He will return to Singapore today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'Vivian reaffirms S'pore-Bhutan ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe