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Trilateral cooperation among Bangladesh, Bhutan and India in hydroelectric power can strengthen regional ties, encourage use of renewable energy and mitigate climate change challenges, a joint statement of Bangladesh and Bhutan has said. Besides, Bangladesh and Bhutan are going to enjoy duty-free access to a number of additional items, as both governments have agreed on it for expanding bilateral trade and cementing friendship between the two countries. - A home for your website

Both the governments have agreed to allow duty free access to additional 16 items proposed by Bhutan and 10 items proposed by Bangladesh, for which both sides will expedite the process. The joint statement issued on April 14 came up during the visit of Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering from April 12-15, at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Tshering wrapped up his 4-day state visit yesterday that expected to further "strengthen the bonds of friendship" between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman saw the Bhutanese Prime Minister off at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the morning, said an official. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, among others, was present.

The Bhutan was accompanied by his spouse Dr Ugyen Dema, the Foreign Minister, the Health Minister, other senior government officials of Bhutan, and a business delegation.

Both countries also signed five instruments: MoU between the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), Ministry of Agriculture of Bangladesh and the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan (MoAF); MoU between the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) and the Royal Institute for Management (RIM) of Bhutan; MoU between the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation and the Tourism Council of Bhutan; MoU between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People"s Republic of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan; SOP for operationalisation of the MoU on Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes between the Government of the People"s Republic of Bangladesh and the Royal Government of Bhutan

As per the joint statement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering welcomed the ongoing discussions among Bangladesh, Bhutan and India on the proposed trilateral cooperation in hydroelectric power. They noted that a trilateral meeting of power secretaries could be held in this regard.

Dr Lotay Tshering thanked the Government of Bangladesh for providing opportunities for Bhutanese students to

pursue higher education, especially in the field of medicine.

He stated that Bangladesh has made significant contribution towards achievement of Bhutan"s health vision by providing slots for Bhutanese students in government medical and dental colleges in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina assured the continued support of Bangladesh to further enhance cooperation with Bhutan in education, and announced additional five scholarships for Bhutanese students in government medical colleges in Bangladesh, taking the total number of reserved seats for Bhutanese medical students to 15.

Lotay, referring to the shortage of medical specialists in Bhutan, expressed the strong interest of Bhutan to recruit specialists from Bangladesh to work in government hospitals in Bhutan.

Sheikh Hasina, recognising Bhutan"s need, agreed to facilitate recruitment of medical specialists from Bangladesh. The two Prime Ministers witnessed and welcomed the signing of an MoU to this effect.

Lotay expressed gratitude to Sheikh Hasina for the generous donation of essential medicines towards the Bhutan Health Trust Fund.

Sheikh Hasina expressed gratitude to Bhutan for being the first country to recognise the independence of Bangladesh on December 6, 1971, after a nine-month War of Liberation.

In this connection, Bhutanese Prime Minister expressed his sorrow and sympathy for the genocide and atrocities endured by the people of Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971.

During official talks, the two Prime Ministers noted that the Agreement on the Movement of Goods in Transit between Bangladesh and Bhutan will be finalised soon by the next Commerce Secretary Level meeting.

The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the operationalisation of the Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit Cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister welcomed Bangladesh"s offer of internet bandwidth and satellite services.