Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here today on a two-day visit to participate in the 16th SAARC Summit.

He was received at the Paro International airport, 60 km from the capital, by Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley and Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Pavan Varma.

Dr. Singh was accorded a warm reception and a guard of honour.

The summit of the eight-nation regional grouping will be inaugurated later in the day.

During his stay here during the two-day Summit, Dr. Singh is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani and would also hold interactions with leaders from other member countries.

“The winds of change are blowing across the world. South Asia cannot be immune to the trend of greater integration, both at the regional and global levels,” the Prime Minister had said last night, on the eve of his departure.

He said the Summit would provide the countries of this region an opportunity to collectively reflect on “where we are, what more we can do together to meet the developmental aspirations of our people, and how South Asia can play its rightful role in the international arena."

“I also look forward to my meetings with leaders of other SAARC countries,” the Prime Minister said, without elaborating.

The SAARC leaders are expected to discuss at length the issue of climate change which is the central theme of the summit, and will come out with a Special SAARC Declaration on Climate Change.

This is the first SAARC Summit hosted by Bhutan and marks 25 years of the establishment of the regional grouping.

Two SAARC agreements on Environment and Trade in Service will be signed during the Summit that is to be attended by leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, besides India.

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