US Deputy Secretary Of State Visited Bhutan To Expand And Deepen Friendship Ties
“At an appropriate time, we would put up experts in the US with Bhutanese counterparts and deepen our relationships,” said US Deputy Secretary of State, John Joseph Sullivan.
By Rinzin Wangchuk | Kuensel
His Majesty The King granted an audience to the United States Deputy Secretary of State, John Joseph Sullivan on 13 Aug 2019. As the 19th Deputy Secretary of State, he assumed office on 24 May 2017.
State Deputy Secretary Sullivan and his eight-member delegation were in the country from August 11 to 14 to explore means of expanding and deepening ties with the government and people of Bhutan.
The US Deputy Secretary Sullivan said he was very grateful for the opportunity that His Majesty has given him.
USA provide funding for the STEM education programme
“I was particularly impressed by His Majesty’s interest in STEM education - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” he said.
The State Department put together a USD 4.5 million package for the STEM education programme.
“We provided a notice to the Congress that we would like to provide assistance to the government of Bhutan to improve STEM education in the country. We will be able to provide that money since it is a priority of His Majesty and the government,” said US Deputy Secretary Sullivan, who is visiting Bhutan for the first time.
The Deputy Secretary of State also called on Bhutan’s Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, the Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, and Economic Affairs Minister, Loknath Sharma on 12 August.
Fostering Bhutan-USA friendship ties
Deputy Secretary Sullivan visited Bhutan to underscore the warm and friendly ties between the United States and Bhutan.
“Although we do not have diplomatic relations with Bhutan, we have close relationship through the Embassy in New Delhi. We have people-to-people exchanges; several government officials have studied in the USA,” US Deputy Secretary Sullivan said.
He added that educational opportunities increases people to people exchange programmes, including STEM education and they are also looking to implement the NASA programme as discussed with His Majesty.
Source: Youtube/Pasco County Schools
According to the US Deputy Secretary Sullivan, there are a range of opportunities to increase cooperation and support in ways that are appropriate for Bhutan which suit the needs of the Bhutanese government.
For instance, in the course of the conversation with the minister of economic affairs, they identified a number of areas where the United States government or experts will be able to provide assistance such as seismology with geological survey experts.
Various avenues of collaboration explored
“At an appropriate time, we would put up experts in the US with Bhutanese counterparts and deepen our relationships,” he said.
The Prime Minister in his discussion with the Deputy Secretary of State emphasised on diversifying the Bhutanese economy and sustaining agriculture production and export.
“We hope to work with the government in exporting agriculture products,” the Deputy Secretary Sullivan said.
On Bhutan’s democratic transition, the Deputy Secretary said it was a positive move which has led to increased bilateral relationship with the United States. The two countries share democratic values, commitment to rules of law and human rights without any corruption.
“I have come here to underscore US support for Bhutan and commitment to defend Bhutan as a fellow democratic country by providing support to Bhutan’s sovereignty,” he added.
There are lots of things the two countries can learn from each other. With due respect for mutual values, we will engage in a relationship that is not only appropriate for Bhutan but will also meet the needs of the government and people.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.