His Majesty and Indian PM hold fruitful talks on support for the 11th plan and expediting 10,000 MW

 

25th January, 2013: His Majesty the King and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi
25th January, 2013: His Majesty the King and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi

Apart from being the Chief Guest at the  symbolic and prestigious Republic Day, His Majesty the King and the Indian Prime Minister had important delegation level talks that focused on support for Bhutan’s 11th plan, expediting the 10,000 MW projects and strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

A joint press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs said, “His Majesty the King held delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister of India.”

Talking about bilateral relations the release said, “The two sides held discussions on bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues. They noted with satisfaction the strong ties of friendship, cooperation and understanding that exists between the two countries and reiterated their resolve to further strengthen these exemplary relations.”

In the recent months before His Majesty’s visit to Delhi His Majesty had successfully cleared any potential confusion about relations between the two countries.

Diplomatic statements by the elected government particularly in relation to a northern neighbor had lead to confusion and apprehension in the Indian Media and sections of the leadership in New Delhi.

During His Majesty’s visit various media and official reports from New Delhi showed Bhutan in a positive light and as a country that is a good friend of India.

In the talks the Government of India (GoI) reiterated its commitment to assist the Royal Government of Bhutan in its socio-economic development efforts and in particular the Eleventh Five Year Plan which will begin from July 2013.

As per the latest figures Bhutan’s 11th plan is targeted at an ambitious Nu 234bn. In the 10th plan and in plans period prior to that the GoI has been Bhutan’s main developmental partner.

The two sides reviewed the progress of the Government of India-assisted projects and programmes in the Tenth Five Year Plan and discussed the framework of the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Eleventh Five Year Plan.

They also reviewed the progress of the ongoing collaboration in the area of hydropower development and agreed to expedite the implementation of the seven remaining projects in order to achieve the target of 10,000 MW by 2020.

Of the 10 projects three which are the Punatsangchu I and II and Mangdechu are already under construction with others about to start construction.

It is estimated that around Nu 700 to 750 bn will be the completion cost for the 10,000 MW projects.

Northern India itself had to suffer massive power outages in 2012 due to the shortage of electricity during which power from Bhutan had helped alleviate the situation to some extent.

During the visit, an agreement to release the standby credit of Rs. Four billion to Bhutan was signed between the two sides which will be taken at a lower interest rate of five percent.

The rupee loan is significant as His Majesty in his National Day speech had highlighted the rupee shortage as an area of concern.

25th January, 2013: His Majesty the King and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi
25th January, 2013: His Majesty the King and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi

At the invitation of Pranab Mukherjee, President of the Republic of India, His Majesty, paid a State Visit to India from January 23 to 30, 2013. His Majesty graced the Sixty Fourth Republic Day celebrations as the Chief Guest. His Majesty and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen were accompanied by Minister-in-Charge for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Finance Minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu and senior officials of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

His Majesty was received in a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by the President of India, who also hosted a banquet in honour of His Majesty.

The Vice President Mohammad H. Ansari, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, Minister for Finance P. Chidambaram, Minister for Home Affairs Sushil Kumar Shinde, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and other senior officials of the Government of India and political leaders called on His Majesty.

His Majesty met Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance and the President of Indian National Congress and Rahul Gandhi, Vice President of the Indian National Congress.

The release said that the state visit of His Majesty to the Republic of India was yet another milestone in the annals of India-Bhutan friendship. It contributed to further enhancing the very close ties of understanding, trust and friendship between the two countries.

His Majesty thanked the government and the people of India for the invitation to join them in the Republic Day celebrations. He expressed appreciation for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to Him, the Gyaltsuen and the members of the Bhutanese delegation.

 

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