Bhutan ready to talk on refugees: EU

Kathmandu, March 21:

The head of the European Union (EU) delegation, Neena Gill, who arrived here today from Bhutan, said that Bhutan was ready to begin bilateral talks and process of repatriation of Bhutanese refugees from the same point where it had stopped earlier.

“They (Bhutan government) are prepared to move forward with the agreements reached earlier,” said Gill after the delegation met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs KP Sharma Oli at Shital Niwas today. She added that Bhutan was supportive to the US’ offer of resettlement of 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in the United States.

Asked if the EU has any proposal for third country resettlement, Gill said, “EU is more concerned that the constituent assembly election is held and the old problems like that of Bhutanese refugees’ can be settled later.”

Oli said that the EU was concerned that the Maoists are yet to translate their words into action. “EU has found the situation a bit strange that the Maoists are yet to implement their commitments by returning the seized properties of the people,” said Oli.

He said that the EU delegation had asked him on how it (the EU) could help to hold the constituent assembly elections.

Stating that the process of resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees in the third countries has not yet started, Oli said: “Our stance is still in resolving the issue through bilateral talks. We have not concluded that this issue cannot be resolved bilaterally.” The delegation also met the Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel and discussed about the CA polls.

The delegation is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nembang, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Personal Representative Ian Martin, SAARC Secretary-General Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, UN Resident Coordinator Mathew Kahane, UNHCR representative Abraham Abraham and Speaker Subas Nembang.

The delegation will visit refugee camps in Jhapa during its four-day visit.