Sunday, 18 May 2008

Indian PM receives audience with His Majesty the King of Bhutan


May 17: The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has arrived in the kingdom on a two day visit. Shortly after his arrival in the capital yesterday, Dr. Manmohan Singh received an audience with His Majesty the King at the Tashichhodzong.

The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh was escorted in an elaborate chipdrel procession to the Tashichhodzong. In the courtyard of the Tashichhodzong, he was presented a guard of honour by the Royal Body Guards and the Royal Bhutan Army followed by the National Anthems of the two countries. Dr Manmohan Singh was then ushered into the throne room where he received an audience with His Majesty the King.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is the first leader of a foreign country to visit Bhutan after the kingdom became a democratic constitutional monarchy. His visit also coincides with the golden jubilee of the visit of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Bhutan in 1958.

The foundation of the close ties of friendship between the two countries was laid by the late King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr Manmohan Singh is the fifth Indian Prime Minister to visit Bhutan.

During the audience, His Majesty the King said that the close ties of friendship and India’s unstinted support have been central to Bhutan’s socio economic achievements and prosperity. Most recently, India had provided important financial and technical assistance in Bhutan’s preparations for democratic elections. His Majesty paid special tribute to the role of Pandit Nehru who visited Bhutan 50 years ago in defining the strength and intimacy of our bilateral ties.

The Prime Minister of India felicitated His Majesty the King, the people and the government of Bhutan on the successful start of democracy and expressed India’s support for Bhutan’s democratic and economic endeavors. He also reiterated India’s support for the 10th Five year Plan.

His Majesty said that as Bhutan faces the challenges of building a new democracy founded on a strong economy, it is only natural that we should strive to do so with the cooperation and support of India, the world’s largest democracy and economic giant.

His Majesty and the Prime Minister of India emphasized the complete commitment of the leadership of both countries to Bhutan-India friendship cooperation in this new era.

Following the audience with His Majesty the King, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with his Bhutanese counterpart Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley.

Speaking to BBS after the meeting, the Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley said the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Bhutan is significant for many reasons. He said the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has come to express India’s solidarity with His Majesty the King in supporting the realization of His Majesty’s vision of a democratic Bhutan.

Describing the discussions between the two Prime Ministers as fruitful, he said Dr. Manmohan Singh has assured the royal government of India’s full support for the realization of the aims and objectives of the 10th five year plan.

The Foreign Secretary of India Mr. Shivshankar Menon said the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was deeply touched by the extraordinarily warm welcome extended by the government of Bhutan. He said this reflects the unique, close, and warm nature of the relationship that Bhutan and India enjoy.

Mr. Shivshankar Menon was speaking at a press briefing yesterday evening at the Phuntsho Pelri hotel in the capital. He said in keeping with the tradition of high level exchanges, the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has invited his Bhutanese counterpart Lyonchen Jigmi Thinley to visit India.

He said they have been instructed by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to look at doubling the hydropower generation in Bhutan from the original target of 5000 megawatt to 10,000 megawatt by 2020.

He said Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has made it clear that they would not just be responsive but committed to support Bhutan’s developmental efforts.

www.bbs.com.bt

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