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Opinion

Israel and Bhutan establish formal diplomatic relations

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Bhutan and Israel established formal diplomatic relations on Saturday, and the tiny Himalayan nation now has diplomatic relations with 54 countries and the European Union.

Bhutan’s ambassador, Vetsop Namgyel, and his Israeli counterpart, Ron Malka, exchanged verbal notes on the establishment of diplomatic relations during a ceremony held at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi.

“The establishment of diplomatic relations would not only build on the existing close ties, but would open the way for greater cooperation and further strengthen the relations between the two countries and peoples,” said a joint statement issued by the two countries.

The event came just over a fortnight after Bhutan established full diplomatic relations with Germany on November 25. It also occurred in the context of new Chinese claims over parts of the territory of Bhutan near the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

During Saturday’s ceremony, the envoys from the two countries “recognized the growing commitments between Bhutan and Israel and welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations,” according to the statement.

Namgyel and Malka reiterated the shared desire of the two countries to further strengthen bilateral cooperation for the benefit of their people.

“In addition to deepening cooperation in areas that include economic, technological and agricultural development, the two ambassadors stressed that ties between peoples through cultural exchanges and tourism would also be further strengthened,” the statement said.

After the ceremony, Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji and his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, congratulated each other.

Israel and Bhutan have “enjoyed cordial relations marked by friendship and cooperation, even in the absence of diplomatic relations,” the statement said. Israel supported Bhutan’s human resource development since 1982, especially in agricultural development that has benefited hundreds of Bhutanese youth.

The establishment of diplomatic relations will create new avenues of cooperation between the two countries in water management, technology, human resource development, agricultural sciences and other areas.

The statement did not say whether the two countries will open embassies in each other’s capital.

Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, is home to only three foreign missions: those of India, Bangladesh and Kuwait.

As part of the internal reforms introduced by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who ruled from 1952 to 1972, Bhutan gradually established relations with a small number of countries and joined the UN in 1971.

There was no formal reaction from the Indian side to the development on Saturday. However, India welcomed the establishment of full-blown diplomatic relations between Germany and Bhutan last month.

Original source

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