India, Bhutan relationship forged by ties of geography, history, culture: PM Narendra Modi

On the eve of his first trip abroad Modi said on Saturday that Bhutan was a natural choice for his visit as both the countries enjoyed a unique and special relationship.

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2014, 01:52 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: On the eve of his first trip abroad after becoming the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi said on Saturday that Bhutan was a natural choice for his visit as both the countries enjoyed a unique and special relationship, which had been forged by ties of geography, history and culture.

He also said that relations with Bhutan would be a key foreign policy priority of the BJP-led NDA government.

In a statement issued today the PM said among other things, “I will review with the Bhutanese leadership our development cooperation programme to make it even more effective and responsive to the changing aspirations of the people of Bhutan.”
Modi is visiting Bhutan from June 15-16 at the invitation of its King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. He will be accompanied by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and NSA Ajit Doval among others.

Following is the full text of the PM`s statement -

Statement by Prime Minister prior to his departure for Bhutan June 14, 2014 -

I will be visiting Bhutan from 15 to 16 June 2014 at the invitation of His Majesty the King and the Government of Bhutan.
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 Prime Minister is a natural choice. Relations with Bhutan will be a key foreign policy priority of my government.

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.

Bhutan`s peaceful and smooth transition to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy has been a success story. Its orderly conduct of elections is testimony to the consolidation of its democracy, in accordance with the wise vision of Their Majesties. During my visit, I will have the honour to address the Joint Session of the Parliament of Bhutan.

The Government of India has been a privileged and leading partner of Bhutan in its socio-economic development. We rejoice in Bhutan`s remarkable economic growth and its progress and prosperity.

We are committed to continuing our unstinted support to Bhutan in its development efforts. I will review with the Bhutanese leadership our development cooperation programme to make it even more effective and responsive to the changing aspirations of the people of Bhutan. I will also inaugurate one of our assistance projects during this visit, i.e., the building of the Supreme Court of Bhutan.

Our Hydropower cooperation with Bhutan is a classic example of win-win cooperation and a model for the entire region. During the visit, we will lay the Foundation Stone of the 600 MW Kholongchu Hydropower Project.

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.

I am looking forward to my first-ever visit to Bhutan and to nurturing and further strengthening India`s special relations with Bhutan.