PM, Bhutan king discuss aid, energy cooperation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday met Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk and discussed a host of issues, including the possibility of expanding India’s development assistance to the Himalayan state and energy cooperation.

Against the backdrop of reports about China stepping up its influence in Bhutan, the Bhutanese monarch arrived Wednesday morning on a nine-day visit to India that includes several private engagements in places such as Dehradun and Ranthambore.

Manmohan Singh and Wangchuk discussed a slew of bilateral issues, including the possibility of expanding development assistance to Bhutan, sources said.

The two also discussed the unique nature of India-Bhutan ties and decided to scale up cooperation in the energy sector.

The Bhutanese monarch will meet External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram later in the day.

He will also meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony and deliver a keynote address at a function to mark the golden jubilee of the National Defence College here Thursday. An alumnus of the NDC, he will be part of another function at NDC next day, also to be attended by President Pratibha Patil.

The monarch will attend a function at Doon School, which is completing 75 years this month.

India and Bhutan modernised their multi-faceted ties over two years ago by signing a revised treaty of friendship and cooperation that gave Thimphu more freedom in the crucial areas of foreign policy and non-lethal military purchases provided it does not impinge on New Delhi’s interests.

Thimphu has also been the largest recipient of Indian foreign aid over the years.

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