Indian foreign minister calls for an economic partnership with Bhutan

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had a meeting with the Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley on Monday and on Tuesday got an audience from His Majesty the King.

He also had extensive talks with the Foreign Minister in charge Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.

On Monday evening in a brief Press Conference at Tashi-Taj the minister gave an outline of his talks.

The foreign ministers in his meeting with the Bhutanese government pressed for establishing an “economic partnership” with Bhutan.

Earlier prior to his visit to Bhutan news reports from India said that the foreign minister would be pushing for more Indian companies to play a role in Bhutan’s hydropower development.

According to news reports he also stressed on the need to take the bilateral relationship beyond the development partnership that currently exists between the two.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who held talks with the country’s leadership here, reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations with Bhutan.

“What I urged the government of Bhutan is to look at India and Bhutan becoming economic partners. To look at innovative ways of taking up challenges of our times, opportunities that global economic trends offer and take us beyond development partnership to economic partnership,” Khurshid told reporters after his meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinely and with the Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister-in-Charge for Foreign Affairs Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.

“There are some good ideas, wonderful ideas that Bhutanese government has of using Bhutan as a hub. The minister was referring to Bhutan’s attempts to establish an Education City hub.

That is the reason why regular consultations are called for,” Khurshid said adding that the two countries have agreed in principle to “structured consultations”.

Talking about his meeting today, the Minister said he had“absolutely outstanding, very candid, open friendly” talks.

“We talked of virtually all areas of mutual concern, we discussed successful projects, projects that are now been implemented. It was a meeting of friends,” he said. Hydro-projects were also discussed in the meeting, he said

Khurshid, is travelling with his wife Louise.

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