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Indian foreign secretary Vijay K Gokhale calls on Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday evening in New Delhi
Indian foreign secretary Vijay K Gokhale calls on Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday evening in New Delhi

PM on a three-day state visit to India 

Bhutan and India will set yet another milestone on the friendly relations as the leaders of the two countries meet today to deliberate and declare the electricity export tariff for Mangdechhu hydroelectric project and budgetary support for the 12th Plan.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering arrived in New Delhi yesterday on a state visit to hold talks on these issues with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.

Numerous rounds of consultations were held between the governments to decide on the final tariff.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering in an earlier interview said the tariff rate is important for the 12th Plan, as it would form a big component of the internal revenue to support developmental activities.

The tariff rate of the 720-megawatt project is closely tied to the revenue available for country in the 12th Plan. The commissioning of Mangdechhu project would be one of the biggest earning hydropower projects for the country.

The inauguration of project, expected next month, is planned as one of the major events of the golden jubilee celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The delegation would also hold discussions on Sunkosh hydropower project, which is also expected to be an inter-government project. The two sides will also discuss the budgetary support in the 12th Plan. The Indian government provided Nu 50 billion, including the Nu 5 billion for the economic stimulus plan, in the 11th Plan.

Lyonchhen’s three-day state visit is at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is accompanied by foreign minister Dr Tandi Dorji, economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma, and the secretaries of foreign, finance, and economic affairs ministries, and gross national happiness commission.

During the meetings with the Indian leaders, Lyonchhen conveys deep appreciation of the people and Government of Bhutan for the generous assistance provided by the people and Government of India.

The Indian foreign secretary Vijay K Gokhale, members of India-Bhutan Friendship Association, and a Delhi study group called on Lyonchhen yesterday.

Lyonchhen will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan today morning. He will also pay homage to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat, and then head to Hyderabad House to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Lyonchhen will call on President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. Lyonchhen will also meet Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and Power Minister R K Singh.

The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular exchange of high-level visits between Bhutan and India.

“Lyonchhen’s visit will further strengthen the already existing close ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and provide an opportunity to review and expand future areas of cooperation,” a press release from the foreign ministry stated.

The other reason that makes this visit special is that this is Lyonchhen’s first visit abroad after assuming his office. It also coincides with the golden jubilee year of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India.

This visit adds to the exchange of visits by the leaders of the two countries.

In May 2008, exactly 50 years after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Bhutan, the then Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh visited Bhutan and addressed the first joint session of the Bhutanese parliament.

The prime minister’s visit came at a time when the kingdom was celebrating the centenary of the monarchy, the coronation of the fifth Druk Gyalpo, the adoption of the Constitution, and the installation of the first elected government in Bhutan.

India has been the first destination of choice for the elected Prime Ministers of Bhutan, Dr Lotay Tshering being the third.

India reciprocated this gesture with Prime Minister Narendra Modi choosing Bhutan for his first foreign visit after his election in 2014.

Tshering Palden | New Delhi

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