Press Trust of India

India to stand by Bhutan’s quest for development: Modi

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Thimphu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday assured Bhutan’s top leadership that India will stand by the Himalayan kingdom in its quest for development and that their unique bilateral ties would create avenues for greater cooperation in connectivity, infrastructure, trade and energy sectors.

Prime Minister Modi is here on a two-day State visit to further cement India’s unique relations with Bhutan as part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy.

The two countries exchanged several MoUs and signed agreements in the fields of energy, trade, digital connectivity, space and agriculture, and finalised the MoU on the establishment of rail links between the two nations.

Modi called on the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and held talks with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

“Glad to have met His Majesty the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. We talked about ways to improve bilateral relations between our nations,” Modi posted on X.

“In Bhutan, held productive talks with PM @tsheringtobgay. We reviewed the complete range of India-Bhutan friendship, and agreed to boost our developmental partnership as well as deepen cultural linkages,” he wrote on his meeting with his Bhutanese counterpart.

This was Modi’s second meeting with his Bhutanese counterpart this month.

Tobgay visited New Delhi last week, his first foreign trip after assuming the charge of the top office in January.

Modi said the MoUs and agreements will add momentum to India-Bhutan relations.

“To fulfil your goals, India stands with you for BB – Brand Bhutan and Bhutan Believe. I assure you that the upcoming 5 years will give a new energy to our relations. We will work to create avenues in the connectivity, infrastructure, trade and energy sectors,” Modi said in his address after being bestowed Bhutan’s highest civilian award.

“Aspirations of Bharat and Bhutan are similar. We’ve decided to build Viksit Bharat by 2047; Bhutan has decided to become a ‘high-income’ nation by 2034. To fulfil your goals, India stands with you in ‘Brand Bhutan’ and ‘Bhutan Believe’,” Modi said.

“The Bharat-Bhutan partnership is not limited to land and water… Bhutan is now a partner of Bharat in its space missions. Scientists of Bhutan have launched satellites in collaboration with ISRO. We celebrate each other’s achievements,” he said.

Modi was conferred the ‘Order of the Druk Gyalpo,’ making him the first foreign Head of the Government to receive the honour.

The award recognises Prime Minister Modi’s contribution to strengthening the India-Bhutan friendship and his people-centric leadership.

“Honoured to be conferred with ‘Order of the Druk Gyalpo’ Award by Bhutan. I dedicate it to 140 crore Indians,” Modi posted on X soon after.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Fifth King of Bhutan, who presented him with the honour, and members of the royal family were also present on the occasion.

Starting his address after receiving the honour with the same sentiment, dedicating the award to 140 crore Indians, Modi said the affinity between the people of India and Bhutan makes their bilateral relationship unique while emphasising that “Bharat” resides in people’s hearts in this Himalayan nation.

Modi addressed the gathering as “My dear friends of Bhutan” and greeted them with a ‘namaskar’, receiving applause from the audience.

“We collaborate and celebrate each other’s successes.When India’s mission Chandrayaan was successful, the people of Bhutan were as happy as the people of India were,” he said.

“Your Majesty, you’re taking forward the rich culture of Bhutan with a modern vision. Your efforts are promoting ‘innovation’ along with ‘inner joy’ in Bhutan. Bhutan has given the world the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’. I am confident that Bhutan’s ‘Mindfulness City’ will also become an inspiration for the world.”

Modi, speaking in Hindi, asserted that “Our ties are inseparable. Our friendship is inseparable. Our mutual cooperation is inseparable. And, the main thing is our faith is unwavering. And, that is why this day is very special for me.”

People from Bhutan dressed in their native wear and holding flags of both countries clapped intermittently as Modi addressed them.

Ensconced between the mighty Himalayas and India, sharing its border on west, south and east, Bhutan and India share “a unique and enduring partnership which is rooted in mutual trust, understanding and goodwill.

Modi’s visit to Thimphu came against the backdrop of China and Bhutan looking at an expeditious resolution of their festering boundary row that could have implications for India’s security interests.

India has been keeping a close eye on the negotiations between Bhutan and China on their boundary row as it could have implications for New Delhi’s security interests, especially in the Doklam tri-junction.

Earlier, Modi thanked Prime Minister Tobgay for the “exceptional public welcome accorded to him, with people greeting him all along the journey from Paro to Thimphu,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said here in a statement.

Modi also received an audience with the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, here.

The Fourth King of Bhutan extended a warm welcome to the Prime Minister, who in turn, thanked The Fourth King for his leadership, vision and contributions to the strengthening of India- Bhutan relations.

Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome upon his arrival at the Paro International Airport where he was warmly received by Prime Minister Tobgay.

Dressed in their traditional best, the Bhutanese people lined up the entire 45-kilometre route from Paro International Airport to Thimphu, which was decked up with Indian and Bhutanese flags.

Later, a group of Bhutanese youngsters, dressed in traditional Indian attire, performed a dance on a Garba song written by Modi to welcome him to their country.

After watching them perform with rapt attention and applauding at the end of the performance, Modi posted on X along with photos from the occasion: “I am grateful to the people of Bhutan, especially the young children, for the memorable welcome to their beautiful country.”

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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