India warms up to Bhutan King current on state visit

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Bhutan’s newly married King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, currently on a 9 day state visit to India just 10 days after his marriage, held comprehensive discussions with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday on a host of issues of mutual interest.

The King on Monday exchanged views with the Vice-President, the leader of the Opposition, Home and Finance Ministers, UPA Chiarperson and the Foreign Secretary. He was accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Amid reports of Chinese activities in areas bordering Bhutan, New Delhi is learnt to have taken it up with Thimphu at the highest levels. Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Sanjeev K Tripathi will be meeting the Bhutanese King in the Capital on Tuesday. According to the Indian Express, Mr. Tripathi will brief him on the intelligence inputs gathered by the Indian agencies in a two-hour “one-on-one” meeting. The Bhutanese King will also meet Army Chief V K Singh on Tuesday.

The king accompanied by his India educated new Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck will also take a trip to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. This is the King’s fourth visit to India and the first after his Royal Wedding on October 13. It is also the first foreign trip of the King after his marriage.

India and Bhutan have traditionally close relations. Bhutan too places its friendship with India on high priority. India is one of the few countries that Bhutan has allowed to establish a diplomatic presence in Thimphu. Neither the US nor China have diplomatic missions in Bhutan.

New Delhi has careful to not let Bhutan go the Nepal way and has been supporting in a host of development projects. It has been helping Thimpu in tapping hydro-power sector and is in the forefront in establishing some of the best hydro-power projects in the world in the Himalayan Kingdom .

India has decided to import a minimum of ten thousand megawatts of electricity from Bhutan by 2020. In a bid to scale up trade relations between the two countries, India has allowed sixteen entry and exit points for Bhutanese traders.

It has been supporting Bhutan ‘s move towards democracy. It is expected that the present visit of the King will give a fresh impetus to the relations between the two countries, paving the way for tapping full potential of commercial ties.

(With inputs from AIR)



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