Paro (Bhutan), Apr.28 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived at the Paro International Airport on Wednesday on a three-day visit to participate in the XVIth SAARC Summit that begins today.
He was received at the airport by the Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley and India”s Ambassador to Bhutan Pawan K Varma.
Singh was given a warm reception and accorded a guard of honour at the airport.
The summit will be inaugurated in the second half of the day.
During his stay here, Dr.Singh is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani and also hold interactions with leaders of other SAARC countries.
He will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Thinley on April 30. India and Bhutan are expected to sign bilateral agreements on a wide range of subjects.
Ahead of his departure for Bhutan, Dr.Singh reiterated India’s commitment to play its role in the resurgence of South Asia.
In a statement on the eve on his departure, Dr. Singh said: “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.”
With the theme of this year””s SAARC Summit being Climate Change, Dr. Singh said that he was looking forward to discussing regional cooperation and strategies for tackling the effects of global warming in the 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,” Dr. Singh stated.
Describing the establishment of SAARC in 1985 as a visionary step for the South Asian region, Dr. Singh said: “During this period the region has witnessed major transformation, and the idea of regional economic cooperation has taken firm roots.”
“This Summit has special significance as it takes place on the 25th anniversary of SAARC. This is also the first time that Bhutan will be hosting a SAARC Summit,” Dr. Singh further stated in his statement.
“ 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,” Dr. Singh said.
Stating that India enjoys close relations with Bhutan which are based on complete mutual trust and understanding, Dr. Singh said: “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,” Dr. Singh added. (ANI)