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A very successful state visit

Bilateral Relations  Bhutan and India discussed the framework of Bhutan’s 11th Five Year Plan, and agreed to expedite the implementation of the seven remaining hydropower projects.

During His Majesty’s seven-day state visit, the two sides also reviewed the progress of the government of India-assisted projects and programs in the 10th Plan, and the ongoing collaboration in the area of hydropower development.

The Indian government reiterated its commitment to assist Bhutan in its socio-economic development efforts and, in particular, the 11th plan, which will begin from July 2013.

His Majesty the King, who returns today, held delegation-level talks with the Indian prime minister.

In a joint press statement the two governments released this morning, they discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues.

“They noted with satisfaction the strong ties of friendship, cooperation and understanding that exist between the two nations,” the press release stated. “They reiterated the resolve to further strengthen the exemplary relations.”

Bhutanese delegates expressed appreciation for the invaluable and substantial assistance the government of India continued to provide towards Bhutan’s all-round development.

One of the successful achievements of His Majesty’s visit was the signing of an agreement between the two countries to release the standby credit of Rs 4B to Bhutan for the balance payment purposes.

His Majesty, who is accompanied by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, thanked the government of India and its people for the invitation to join them in the Republic Day celebrations.

His Majesty also expressed appreciation for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to him, the Gyaltsuen and the members of the Bhutanese delegation.

Indian foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai, who called on His Majesty yesterday, told Kuensel that it was a great pride for the people of India to have His Majesty grace the Republic Day as the chief guest, and honour them through his presence in building the relationship between the two countries.

During the seven-day visit, His Majesty met with president Pranab Mukherjee, who also hosted a banquet in honour of His Majesty, vice president Mohammad H Ansari, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj.

Other dignitaries His Majesty met included external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, finance minister P Chidambaram, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, chief of army staff General Bikram Singh, and other senior officials of the Indian government, and political leaders.

His Majesty also met with chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance and the president of Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi, and vice president of the Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi.

“The state visit of His Majesty to the Republic of India was yet another milestone in the annals of India-Bhutan friendship,” the joint press statement said. “It contributed to further enhancing the very close ties of understanding, trust and friendship between the two countries.”

Their Majesties were accompanied by the minister-in-charge for foreign affairs and economic affairs minister, Khandu Wangchuk, finance minister Wangdi Norbu, and other senior government officials.

Rinzin Wangchuk, New Delhi

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