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NEW DELHI: Signalling an important milestone in their close relations, India and Bhutan held the first summit after the
as Bhutanese king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk began a three-day visit to India.
Sources said while China dominated the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Wangchuk, there was also an intensive discussion on India’s assistance to Bhutan’s development, particularly the hydroelectric sector. This had run into some difficulties lately, with rupee shortage hitting the Bhutanese hard.
The Indian statement said, “His Majesty the King conveyed appreciation for the invaluable support that the Government of India provides for Bhutan’s socio-economic development.”
In a statement, the MEA said, “The two sides agreed to celebrate in the year 2018 the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries in a befitting manner. The President of India extended an invitation to Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Bhutan, to pay a State visit to India during the golden jubilee year. His Majesty the King of Bhutan accepted the invitation.”
Modi hosted the royal couple at dinner on Wednesday though the cynosure of all eyes was little royal, the Gyalsey, or Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuk who at one year and a few months is on his first state visit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with Bhutanese king’s son Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck. (PTI photo)
The royal couple met President Ram Nath Kovind earlier in the evening while external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had called on the King. A video clip showed the President present the young prince a gift of chocolates. It also had Kovind’s daughter making her first appearance in an official function along with Kovind’s wife, Savita. Welcoming the Bhutanese king, Kovind expressed his deep appreciation for his country’s support in resolving the Doklam standoff.
The manner in which both India and Bhutan stood together to address the situation in Doklam “is a clear testimony to our friendship”, a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said. The President added that the security concerns of India and Bhutan are indivisible and mutual.
The statement added that the President “conveyed deep appreciation for the King of Bhutan’s personal involvement and guidance and the support provided by Bhutan in addressing the recent situation in the Doklam area”. The president said India and Bhutan share exemplary bilateral relations.