News / Asia

    Anxious Himalayan Nation Prepares for Unprecedented Hosting of Dignitaries

    The Himalayan nation of Bhutan prepares for the 16th summit-level meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Thimphu, 24 Apr 2010
    The Himalayan nation of Bhutan prepares for the 16th summit-level meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Thimphu, 24 Apr 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio

    The Himalayan nation of Bhutan is gearing up to host the two-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation annual summit of leaders beginning April 28. Officials in the small and remote country are billing the event as a "coming of age" watershed for Bhutan, which rarely finds itself in the international spotlight.

    This sleepy capital in a Himalayan valley with an elevation of more than 2,300 meters high, is home to 100,000 Bhutanese who do not have much experience playing host to visiting dignitaries. A president or prime minister from a neighboring foreign country might drop in every few years, but never have seven heads of government come calling simultaneously.

    The Secretary of the Information and Communications Ministry, Kinley Dorji, tells VOA News that makes the SAARC summit an unprecedented event in Bhutan's history.

    "It's the biggest meeting we've held, we've ever held," he said.  "And it will be the biggest for a long time because I don't see Bhutan being able to host any of the larger international gatherings."

    During the quarter century of SAARC's existence, Bhutan repeatedly backed away from taking its turn as summit host, citing lack of infrastructure and inability to provide adequate security.

    Visiting leaders will stay in a complex recently built to house Bhutan's Cabinet members.

    Every hotel and guest house in Thimphu has been booked by delegation members and the more than 100 visiting foreign journalists.

    That has shopkeepers in central Thimphu delighted.

    Tenpa, who uses only one name, runs a small store selling traditional and modern garments, as well as a bit of jewelry.

    The merchant says many visitors will surely drop in to his shop and he is expecting a bonanza of additional sales.

    Not everyone is caught up in the whirlwind. For Buddhist nun Mindu Zangmo, walking back to her monastery from a hospital visit, it is all a bit confusing.

    She says she has no idea what is SAARC but if all these important foreigners are coming, she figures, it must be good for Bhutan.

    Many others seem to agree with that optimistic assessment. Hundreds of civil servants, students and recent graduates have volunteered and undergone training to become cooks, butlers and janitors to provide manpower at summit venues.

    In addition to host Bhutan and the seven other SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - there will be a number of official observer delegations: Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora