By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA — The Philippines has taken the initial step towards the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Department of Foreign affairs (DFA) confirmed Tuesday.
“The Philippines has been keen to establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bhutan and has indicated this interest for some time,” the DFA told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Last December, DFA Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre called on Bhutan Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji and presented a letter from Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., conveying the country’s desire to establish diplomatic relations with Bhutan.
“The establishment of diplomatic relations is a process that entails sustained contacts and discussions between both sides. The recent mission of the Department of Foreign Affairs to Thimpu is an important and significant step in moving forward this priority undertaking,” it said in a statement.
While the two nations have never established diplomatic ties, Manila maintains warm relations with Thimphu as the two engaged in significant practical and technical cooperation over the past few years.
In the past, the DFA said the Philippines has already welcomed a number of Bhutanese officials on missions for training or to exchange best practices.
“Formal relations between the Philippines and Bhutan can only promote further amity, goodwill, and cooperation between two countries with great affinity and much to learn from each other, not only as Asian neighbors but also as nations that rank high in happiness indices,” it noted.
Bhutan, dubbed as the happiest place on earth, has been lauded by Manila in the past for its Gross National Happiness index, a concept which measures the South Asian country’s progress by giving equal importance to non-economic aspects of well-being.
Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971. To date, it maintains diplomatic relations with only 53 countries. (PNA)