PM leaves on Bhutan visit

May 16th, 2008 - 10:48 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here Friday on a two-day visit to Bhutan, the first by an Indian prime minister after the Himalayan nation became the youngest democracy in South Asia. In his departure statement, Manmohan Singh described India’s ties with Bhutan as a “model of inter-state relations” and said his visit would reinforce that relationship.

Manmohan Singh will address a joint session of the newly elected parliament of Bhutan, becoming the first international leader to be given the honour.

“The India-Bhutan relationship is a model of inter-state relations. We enjoy open borders and free trade between our two countries,” the prime minister said.

“I am confident that my visit, coming at a time when Bhutan moves toward a new democratic system of governance, will reinforce this unique relationship and that we will continue to work together for the economic benefit and prosperity of our two peoples,” he added.

Manmohan Singh pointed out that India has been assisting Bhutan’s five-year plans since 1951.

“The hydropower sector has emerged as an area of win-win cooperation for both countries,” he said.

The visit will focus on developing a more diversified and contemporary economic and energy partnership in tune with emerging realities in the two countries.

Manmohan Singh will hold talks with the previous king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, and his son and the present monarch, 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk.

He will also meet his Bhutanese counterpart, Jigne Thinley, and discuss with him a host of issues, including India’s development cooperation with Bhutan.

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