Transit, trade gap and cooperation in trade, tourism and other social sectors got prominence at the official talks between Bangladesh and Bhutan on Saturday.
The two countries reached consensus to reduce trade gap and strengthen connectivity as well as boost ties in power, water resources, health and other areas of economic and social sectors.
Visiting Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led their respective sides at the meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) here this afternoon.
"At the official talks, the two countries recalled their historic relations and agreed to move ahead with all endevour to tap future prospects," PM's press secretary Shameem Chowdhuri said.
Finance Minister A M A Muhith, Commerce Ministter Tofail Ahmed, Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Health Zahid Malek, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid were in the Bangladesh delegation. Visiting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bhutan Rinzin Dorje and Minister of Economic Affairs Norbu Wangchuk and senior officials were present.
Bangladesh urged Bhutan to consider it as a partner in its future hydro-power projects as Dhaka and Thimpu on Saturday agreed to bridge the existing trade gap between two countries through the expansion of trade and commerce.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh and Bhutan on Saturday signed two agreements, including one on trade that will allow the two neighbouring countries to enjoy duty-free export of 90 items to each other. Another agreement is on allocation of a land at Dhaka city's Baridhara diplomatic enclave to Bhutan for the construction of its embassy.
Bhutan had earlier enjoyed duty-free export of 74 items from their country.
Shameem Chowdhuri said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere where the two leaders elaborately discussed their excellent bilateral relations putting emphasis on enhancing connectivity to boost the ties.
Both the countries agreed to bridge the existing trade gap through the expansion of trade and commerce, he said.
Sheikh Hasina said transit is one of the prerequisite for increasing export-import between the two countries. Transit with India is indispensible both for Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina urged Bhutan to raise the issue with India bilaterally to create an environment of resolving the issue on tripartite basis, Shemeem Chowdhuri said.
She said Bangladesh has already allowed Bhutan for using the Mongla Seaport, Syedpur Airport and existing air lifting facilities at Lalmonirhat aerodrome. "You're also welcome to use our Paira seaport which is coming up," PM added.
On this day in 1971, Bhutan recognized new born independent Bangladesh and it was the first country to do so, Sheikh Hasina recalled saying for this people of Bangladesh are sincerely grateful to the government and people of Bhutan.
She requested her Bhutanese counterpart to take steps for importing more consumable items particularly pharmaceuticals, seasonal vegetables, readymade garments, jute and jute products, leather goods, toiletries and chemicals to reduce the trade gap which is disproportionately in favour of Bhutan.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister expressed his interest to recruit more doctors from Bangladesh and requested Sheikh Hasina to provide education opportunity for more Bhutanese students in Bangladesh.
He laid importance on cooperation of Bangladesh, Bhutan and India for harvesting clean and sustainable energy through exploiting the existing opportunities.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would be happy help Bhutan overcome its scarcity of human resources particularly in health sector. She requested Tshering Tobgay to revise their remuneration package to encourage Bangladeshi doctors to go to Bhutan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pointed out the spiritual relations between the two countries and laid importance on exchange of religious tourists.
Pointing out the recent victory in a football match by Sheikh Jamal Football Club in Bhutan, Sheikh Hasina said sports may be another area for cooperation between the two countries.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay congratulated Sheikh Hasina for becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time. He also commended the role of Bangladesh Prime Minister in leading the country towards prosperity and at the global forum as well.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister lauded the role of PM's daughter Saima Hossain for the cause of disabled persons particularly those suffering from autism.
The Prime Minister invited her Bhutanese counterpart to come to Bangladesh along with his spouse next time and visit the tourist town of Cox's Bazar.
Sheikh Hasina also invited the King of Bhutan to visit Bangladesh at his convenient time.
Earlier, a red carpet was rolled out as Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay arrived Dhaka on Saturday morning on a three-day official visit at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. An aircraft of Royal Bhutan Airlines "Drukair" carrying the Bhutanese Premier and the members of his entourage landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital at 9.02 am.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received the Bhutanese premier at the VVIP Tarmac of the airport when he alighted from the tiny aircraft. A tiny tot presented a bouquet to Tshering Tobgay.
After arrival at the airport, the Bhutanese Prime Minister was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent drawn from three services.
Accompanied by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Bhutanese premier took salute from a decorated dais. He later inspected the guard. The national anthems of the two countries were played at that time.