Koirala -Wangchuk meet: Bhutan vows to resolve refugee crisis soon

Koirala -Wangchuk meet: Bhutan vows to resolve refugee crisis soon

By Gopal Khanal

NEW DELHI, April 4 - Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Bhutanese Prime Minister Khandu Wangchuk Wednesday discussed ways to find solutions to the Bhutanese Refugee problems.

In the 20-minute long discussion, both the prime ministers — who are currently in New Delhi, India to attend the 14th SAARC Summit — concluded that both parties need to be more “serious” in finding a long-term solution to the refugee issue.

During the meeting, Bhutanese PM Wangchuk vowed to resolve the refugee crisis by the next ministerial meeting of the two countries.

Koirala and Wangchuk also agreed to hold a secretary-level meeting soon.

The Bhutanese PM was positive at resolving the refugee imbroglio by the forthcoming ministerial meeting, PM Koirala’s foreign affairs advisor Dr Suresh Chalise quoted Koiaral after the meeting as saying.

PM Koirala also urged his Bhutanese counterpart to finalise the issue before 2008, when Bhutan would attain full democracy.

Koirala said that if the issue was resolved before the instatement of democracy in Bhutan, the refugees could also participate in the Bhutan democratization process and that it would also improve Bhutan’s image in the international committee.

Wangchuk assured Koirala that the upcoming ministerial level meeting between the two countries would find a concrete solution to the problem.

Moreover, Wangchuk also expressed commitment on behalf of Bhutan that his government would be more “serious” regarding the issue, Dr Chalise said.

Chalise added Koirala, who discussed the process of repatriation and third-country settlement of the Bhutanese refugees with Indian and US leaders, today talked to Wangchuk only on the repatriation process.

Meanwhile, PM Koirala met Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa this afternoon and is scheduled to meet Maldives’ President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the evening.

Likewise, a meeting of foreign ministers of the SAARC countries is underway in New Delhi to prepare a memorandum regarding the agreements made during the summit and previous ministerial meets.

In the memorandum, issues like formation of a common mechanism against terrorism, Open University, regional food store and commitment to help – made by the observer nations – will be included, a foreign ministry source said.

After the closing ceremony for the summit, at 5pm today, the memorandum will also be made public.

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