New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described Bhutan as a "natural choice" for his maiden visit abroad, and said relations with Thimphu would be a key foreign policy priority of his government.
In his pre-departure statement ahead of his two-day visit to the Himalayan kingdom Sunday, the prime minister said: "Bound by common interests and shared prosperity, India and Bhutan enjoy a unique and special relationship, which has been forged by ties of geography, history and culture.
"Therefore, Bhutan as the destination for my first visit abroad as the prime minister is a natural choice. Relations with Bhutan will be a key foreign policy priority of my government." The prime minister said he would review with the Bhutanese leadership on making the "development cooperation programme between the two countries "even more effective".
"I am looking forward to my first-ever visit to Bhutan and to nurturing and further strengthening India`s special relations with Bhutan," he said.
Modi, who is visiting Bhutan June 15-16 at the invitation of its King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, said he intends to discuss with the Bhutanese leadership how to further strengthen people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
"During my visit, I will have the opportunity to hold detailed discussions with His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Fourth King and the prime minister of Bhutan on the entire gamut of our bilateral relations.
"People-to-people contact is an important aspect of our bilateral relations. I intend to discuss with the Bhutanese leadership how to further strengthen these contacts between our countries, particularly among the youth. In this regard, the role of educational links will be very important," the statement said.