Bhutan PM to arrive in India on maiden foreign visit

This is Bhutan Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering’s first visit abroad after assuming office. (Photo: Facebook)

NEW DELHI, Dec 27, 2018, India Today. Bhutan’s newly elected Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday (December 27) for a three-day visit. This is his first visit abroad after assuming office, which shows the importance Bhutan attaches to relations with India, reported the India Today.

“The state visit is taking place during the golden jubilee year of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan,” said a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement.

The prime minister will be accompanied by Bhutan’s foreign minister and other senior officials. The new government was a surprise win in the Bhutanese elections toppling the previous Tshering Tobgay administration. But foreign policy and ties between India and Bhutan has been a continuum between the two nations.

Sources told India Today that both sides will focus on development and infrastructure projects, including hydro-power projects. The primary objective would be to conclude discussions over development assistance package for Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan (November 2017-October 2023).

Calling it a “goodwill” visit MEA in a statement said, “India and Bhutan enjoy exemplary ties of friendship and cooperation, based on utmost trust, goodwill and mutual understanding at all levels. The upcoming visit of the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will provide an opportunity to the two sides to review the progress in our multifaceted partnership and to discuss ways and means to expand the enduring ties of friendship and cooperation for the benefit of the two peoples.”

Last year, the two sides initiated discussions India’s assistance to the 12th FYP (2018-2023) of Bhutan with the 11th FYP entering its last phase by the end of 2017. The Annual India-Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks were held on November 10, 2017 in New Delhi. India had committed assistance of Rs 4500 crore for the implementation of development projects during Bhutan’s 11th FYP (2013-2018).

“India has been a privileged partner of Bhutan in its socio-economic development. GOI’s commitment to continue its support to Bhutan in its development efforts was reiterated by the Indian side,” read an MEA statement in November 2017.

Prime Minister Tshering is visiting when India and China have managed to come to a point where tensions have been defused and conversations are constructive. Bhutan and India will focus on all bilateral and regional aspects of the ties.

Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Keshav Gokhale will call on the Bhutanese PM on Thursday evening. On Friday (December 28), there will be a ceremonial reception for him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will receive the Guard of Honour, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi along his side. Tshering will then visit Raj Ghat and to lay a wreath on Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on the Bhutanese PM around 11 am. At noon, a bilateral meeting between the two leaders will begin at Hyderabad House, followed by press statements.

Lotay Tshering will also be meeting Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday and President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday before taking his flight back to Thimphu.

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