PM says Modi is ‘friendly, knowledgeable and well disposed towards Bhutan’

Modi to address a joint sitting of the Parliament, receive an audience with His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Fourth King, and unveil some projects

On the eve of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit and amidst the hectic preparations and scheduling of meetings, Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay shared his personal impression of Modi and also some of the broad topics of discussion.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay who met Modi in Delhi said, “He is a friendly person and obviously very knowledgeable and well disposed towards Bhutan. He mentioned and holds our Kings in very high esteem. He is very aware of the details of the India-Bhutan relationship and overall gives a sense of purpose and hope.”

The PM, apart from meeting the Indian Prime Minister, will also be holding a special banquet in his honour on the evening of June 15.

The Indian Prime Minister Modi is making his first visit to Bhutan at the invitation of His Majesty the King conveyed through the Lyonchhen when he visited Delhi. The Indian Prime Minister will be accompanied by Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, National Security Adviser Mr Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Ms Sujatha Singh and other senior officials of the Government of lndia.

During the visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive audiences with His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

His Majesty the King will host a lunch in honour of the Prime Minister and his delegation. Modi will also address a joint sitting of the third session of the second Parliament of Bhutan on June 16, 2014. During the course of the visit, the Indian Prime Minister will unveil the foundation stone of the 600 megawatt Kholongchu hydropower project and inaugurate the new Supreme Court Building.

Commenting on the significance of the meeting, the PM said, “For one, we are going to take this wonderful opportunity to celebrate the friendship between the two countries and use the opportunity to further cement the already strong ties of friendship.”

He said that since this was the Indian PM’s first visit, the primary focus would be on strengthening relations.

The PM said that there was no specific issues to discuss during the meeting from Bhutan’s side but Bhutan would discuss all the commitments made and the generous support that the government receives from India.

In response to a question on hydropower, the PM said that both the PMs would discuss the situation which is good as of now. The Indian PM in Delhi had expressed his concerns over the delay in some hydropower projects. A concern which has gone well in Thimphu, as the government is anxious to start and complete the mega projects at the earliest dates possible.

The PM said that Bhutan looks forward to strengthening the economic partnership with India and to strengthen the Bhutanese economy. He said works have started on the Nu 5 bn Economic Stimulus Plan.

The PM also said that the Indian assistance, in the form of Nu 45 bn, for Bhutan’s 11th Plan would translate into more economic activities and growth for Bhutan.

Lyonchhen said that even while in Delhi he met the Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and they had agreed that they should exchange visits and draw up a plan of action to encourage investments from India into Bhutan.

According to him Bhutan would be expecting a CII delegation to come to Bhutan, which already has a framework in place in the form of the Economic Development Policy.

He said that Indian companies are already investing in Bhutan and that Bhutan needed to fast track its work with the Indian private sector.

The PM pointed out that Bhutan has made all arrangements to welcome PM Modi warmly, in keeping with the good ties between the two countries. He said the visit would take the friendship between two countries to further heights.

Lyonchhen, in an earlier interview, had declared Modi’s decision to visit Bhutan as being historic. He said that Bhutan was extremely happy and proud of the fact that Modi has chosen to visit Bhutan first, when not only the SAARC region, but the entire world was watching.

According to a foreign ministry press release, the visit is highly significant as it is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit abroad after his swearing-in ceremony as the Prime Minister of lndia on May 26, 2014 in New Delhi. The release says that the visit will further strengthen the unique and special ties of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and lndia.

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