Saturday, 17 May 2008

Indian PM arrives in Bhutan

16 May, 2008 - Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh of India arrived in Paro at 11:30 am today on a two-day state visit during which he is expected to address the first joint session of the Bhutanese parliament tomorrow.

Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley, flanked by several cabinet ministers and senior government officials, personally received Dr Manmohan Singh at the Paro International Airport.

Speaking to the Bhutanese and Indian media, Dr Manmohan Singh said that his visit assumes special significance as this is the year of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck’s coronation and the ushering in of Bhutan’s democratically elected government.

“I have come with the message for the people and the government of Bhutan that India stands ready to join hands to strengthen our relationship, to do our best for accelerated development of Bhutan,” said the prime minister. “This is a very exciting event. Bhutan has just witnessed elections, marvelous development, peaceful transition to a democratic monarchy. As a democracy, we cherish this moment and we will use our visit to strengthen in every possible way the close bonds of friendship that unites our two countries and our people.”

Dr Manmohan Singh will receive an audience with His Majesty the King today and with His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo tomorrow. He will dedicate the Tala hydroelectric project (THP) to the people of Bhutan and India and unveil a foundation stone for 1095 MW Punatsangchu-1 hydroelectric project (P-1HP), which is under construction.

There are 47 delegates accompanying the prime minister including the national security advisor, Mr M K Narayanan, his principal secretary, Mr T K Nair and foreign secretary, Mr Shivshankar Menon.

Dr Manmohan Singh is the fifth Indian prime minister to visit Bhutan.

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