New Delhi: In its move to broaden ties with Bhutan while retaining its role as a development partner, India will provide Rs 400 crore for a trade support facility to encourage Bhutanese exporters. India is also providing Rs 5,000 crore for Bhutan’s 12th five-year plan that began in 2018.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bhutan assumes further significance in the backdrop of efforts by Beijing to woo Thimphu and calls within sections of the Bhutanese political establishment for stronger diplomatic ties with China and a shift away from hydro-power sector.
On reaching Thimphu on Saturday during his two-day visit to Bhutan, Modi held wide-ranging talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering during which the two leaders discussed steps to further expand the bilateral partnership across several sectors.
Modi also launched the RuPay Card by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong. “I am very happy that today we have launched RuPay card in Bhutan. It is our privilege that we have been a major partner in the development of Bhutan. India’s cooperation in Bhutan’s five-year plans will continue,” the PM said.
“Who will not want a friend and a neighbour like Bhutan? It is an honour for us that India is a part of the development of Bhutan,” the PM added.
A total of nine Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between India and Bhutan in the presence of PM Modi and Bhutanese PM Tshering at Simtokha Dzong in Thimphu.
One power purchase agreement (Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant) was also signed between the two countries, along with the remote launching of the ISRO-built Ground Station for South Asian Satellite.
Speaking after signing the MoU, Modi thanked the Bhutanese PM for the warm welcome and said that India is honoured to be a part of the development of the neighbouring nation.
PM Modi said that Bhutan has a special place in the heart of 130 crore Indians and expressed pleasure at visiting the country at the beginning of his second term as PM.
Your visit this time shows how much you meant it, Lotay Tshering said.
The Bhutanese prime minister also said that while the two countries may vary in their sizes, their beliefs and values are common.
India and Bhutan may vary in size but our beliefs, values and motivation are common. Today, I am overwhelmed with the sense pride that the two countries are living the definition of true friendship, the Bhutan PM said.
The two prime ministers also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan Hydropower cooperation and unveiled the “Inauguration Plaque of the Ground Station for South Asian Satellite”.
The e-plaque of the interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network was also unveiled during the event on Saturday.
India and Bhutan shared deep historic ties and Prime Minister’s current visit will help in its further “deepening”, said a tweet by spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs Raveesh Kumar, moments after Modi’s departure. PM Modi will “interact with various Bhutanese leaders”, the tweet added, while describing ties with Bhutan as the central pillar of India’s “neighbourhood first” policy.
Shortly after his arrival in Bhutan, PM Modi received a guard of honour at the Tashichhoedzong Palace. A traditional Chipdrel procession was hosted in the honour of the visiting dignitary.
“Traditional Chipdrel procession and welcome ceremony at the Tashichhodzong Palace for PM @narendramodi before the audience with His Majesty the King of Bhutan. The ceremony symbolises the purification of the path along which the guests are led,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had Tweeted.