Thimphu: India on Friday said Bhutan and its security is "intricately interlinked" and it is important for the two neighbours to be sensitive to each other's concerns, as President Pranab Mukherjee held wide-ranging talks with the Bhutanese leadership.
Breaking protocol, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife received President Mukherjee at the Paro Airport as he arrived in Bhutan for a two-day visit, the first by an Indian head of state to the country in 26 years.
Mukherjee then travelled by road to Thimphu (about 50 km from the airport) as hundreds of school children were lined up along the way, holding Indian and Bhutanese flag.
Mukherjee was given a ceremonial guard of honour at Tashichhoedzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress which has traditionally been the seat of the head of Bhutan's civil government located on the northern edge of Thimphu.
Later in the day, Mukherjee held talks with the King and then Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.
"They covered an entire gamut of bilateral relations. The President noted that there is perfect understanding of each other's concerns and sensitivities," Press Secretary to the President Venu Rajamony said at a briefing after Mukherjee's meeting with the King.
The President recalled the role played by Bhutan under the leadership of the fourth king in 2003 operations to flush out extremists from Bhutan and said this action should be an example to all SAARC countries.
"Bhutan does not indulge in terrorism, does not believe in cross border terrorism and will make every serious effort to control and prevent it. The President asserted that Bhutan and India's security is intricately interlinked and indivisible," Rajamony said.
In his meeting with Prime Minister Tobgay, Mukherjee said, "My state visit is to recognise and symbolise the actual relations between India and Bhutan."
"He (Mukherjee) also stressed the importance of being sensitive to each other's security concerns and doing anything that could endanger the security interest of the other," Rajamony said.
Emphasising the importance of bilateral ties, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said, "The fact that President and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) visited Bhutan within five months is a very clear indication of the high importance attached by India to Bhutan as a friend, as a neighbour and as a partner in its effort to transform the South Asian region for the welfare of our people and the people of our larger region."
"The President praised the development strategy of Bhutan
and its unique emphasis on the happiness of the people and holistic achievement of development without destruction of environment," Rajamony said, giving details of the meeting between Mukherjee and the King.
He said the President described himself as a silent admirer who has watched Bhutan's progress over the decades.
"He (Mukherjee) described hydro-power cooperation as a 'win win' relationship and assured Bhutan of continued support from India," Rajamony said.
The King talked about the good ties India shares with Bhutan.
In his meeting with Mukherjee, Tobgay talked about planned assistance from India to Bhutan.
Tobgay said, "the importance of the relationship is not just for socio-economic reasons but also for political reasons."
Earlier, Mukherjee was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival.
Ahead of the guard of honour, a traditional 'Chipdrel procession' was also held. The procession is hosted specially by the Bhutan King for heads of the states who visit his country.
It is believed that this traditional custom brings good fortune for the country and goodwill with its neighbours.
Ahead of his visit, Mukherjee denied that his Bhutan visit has anything to do with the country's border talks with China.
He said Indo-Bhutanese ties are independent of any third party influence and have great potential to scale new heights on their own.
"India-Bhutan relations stand on its own. We have been and continue to be close to each other. There is so much we are doing together and there is such great potential for us to scale new heights in the future," Mukherjee said in an interview to Bhutanese daily Kuensel.