NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “a warm and productive meeting” with Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck here, with the two leaders covering the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and issues of their respective national interests.
Meanwhile, Bhutan appreciated India for extending the standby credit facility at a reduced interest rate and extended settlement period and for providing additional currency swap support of USD 200 million, according to a joint India-Bhutan statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The visit saw a series of measures to further boost ties, with India deciding to step up its support for Bhutan’s upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan, agreeing to an upward revision of the tariff of the Chhukha hydro-electric project, and working for an additional standby credit facility for the neighbouring country. Briefing reporters after the meeting between PM Modi and the Bhutan King, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the two countries are also examining and considering setting up the first Integrated Check Post (ICP) along the India-Bhutan border.
Responding to a volley of questions on the remarks of Bhutan’s Prime Minister, which were perceived to be at variance with Thimpu’s earlier stance on the boundary issue vis-à-vis China, Kwatra said India and Bhutan remain in close touch and in close coordination relating to shared national interests, including security interests. He said both countries maintain a longstanding tradition of very close consultations on matters relating to their mutual interests, including security, and “in this context, the intertwined and indivisible nature of our security concerns is self-evident”.
The two countries agreed on a range of other initiatives, including boosting connectivity, with India working towards expediting the proposed Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project, which will be the first rail link between the two countries.
India would work for long-term sustainable arrangements for the export of agricultural commodities from Bhutan and to expand energy cooperation beyond hydroelectric projects.
PM Modi said in a tweet that India deeply values its close friendship with Bhutan. “We are pleased to receive His Majesty the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. We had a warm and productive meeting. We deeply value our close friendship and the vision of successive Druk Gyalpos in guiding India-Bhutan relations to new heights,” PM Modi said.
Kwatra said King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck briefed PM Modi on the significant transformation and reform initiative that Bhutan is currently undertaking.
He reiterated India’s continued and full support for the socio-economic development of Bhutan based on the priorities of the Royal Government and in keeping with the transformation initiatives and reform process as per its vision. (ANI)