Bhutan-India ties get new wings

June 19th, 2009 - 12:08 am ICT by IANS  

Thimpu, June 18 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Thursday visited Bhutan, his first trip abroad after assuming office, and stressed upon the “special relations” between the world’s largest and youngest democracies. He also flagged off a new flight connecting Bhutan and India.
Krishna held wide-ranging talks with Bhutanese King Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the world’s youngest monarch at the helm of the youngest democracy, and other leaders on a wide array of bilateral and regional issues, including the security situation in Nepal.

He also met Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley and Foreign Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering.

Shortly after his arrival, Krishna flagged off the first flight of Paro-Bagdogra (Assam) flight of Bhutan’s Druk Air that would spur greater connectivity and promote trade and tourism between the two neighbours.

Briefing reporters on talks, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said the discussions focused on expanding the canvas of multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.

The two sides also reviewed the situation in the region, including the political crisis in Nepal and its ramifications. “We didn’t go into much detail,” Menon said.

“India and Bhutan share uniquely warm and cordial relation. These are founded on close consultations, maturity, complete trust, mutual understanding, shared interest and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Krishna said.

In a banquet hosted by the Bhutanese monarch in his honour, Krishna described Bhutan as “our closest friend and neighbour” and held bilateral relations as “an example of good neighbourliness”.

“The Bhutanese people enjoy a very special place in the minds and hearts of all Indians. My visit, therefore, is to reaffirm the deep emotional bonds of friendship between our two countries that have few parallels in the world,” he said.

Putting energy cooperation at the heart of the growing India-Bhutan relationship, Krishna said New Delhi was committed to generating 10,000 MW of hydel power for export to India by 2020.

Alluding to the widening spectrum of bilateral engagement that includes areas ranging from power, transport, communications infrastructure to education, IT, industry, medicine and agriculture, Krishna said India will be a close development partner of Bhutan in days to come.

“We rejoice in the success of Bhutan,” Krishna said in his first visit abroad as foreign minister. The visit signalled and reinforced the new government’s renewed emphasis on building stronger relations with the neighbourhood.

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