Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigmi Y. Thinley has said Bhutan’s enthusiasm for bilateral cooperation with the Maldives has been elevated by the impressive achievements of the Maldivian government and the bold and visionary initiatives it is pursuing.

Prime Minister Thinley made the assertion speaking at the state banquet hosted by President Mohamed Nasheed in his honour yesterday.

He noted other than the geographical difference between the Maldives and Bhutan, both countries were more alike.

“We are both small, locked by land or sea. We are both youthful democracies with fragile ecologies and vulnerable economies,” he added.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Thinley also highlighted the engagements with the Maldivian government on a number of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern.

On bilateral relation, he said both governments have identified a number of areas including education, health, tourism, housing, environment and governance, “in which we have agreed to enhance or initiate consultations and cooperation.”

Further, on regional cooperation, he underscored that both the Maldives and Bhutan “shared the determination to make SAARC a more focused and effective mechanism for regional peace, stability, cooperation and collective growth.”

Rejoicing the Maldives’ assumption of presidency of the regional association on November this year, Bhutanese Prime Minister said:

President Nasheed’s “belief in and commitment to regional cooperation, I am certain that SAARC will make major strides under his stewardship.”

The Maldives will host 17th SAARC Summit in November this year.

At the state banquet held at the Official Residence of the President, Mulee-aage, President Nasheed commended Prime Minister Thinley for the success of 16th SAARC Summit hosted by Bhutan in 2010.

“Now we face the challenge of doing the same. And again, having had set such standards, it, of course, won’t be easy for us to do the same. But again in our modest manner, we will try our best,” he added.

The state banquet proceeded with a demonstration of Maldivian cultural performances.