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India and Bhutan reaffirm unique ties as latter looks to settle Tibet-border with China

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(TibetanReview.net, Nov07’23) – As China and Bhutan talk about settling their Tibet-border disputes sooner rather than later and establishing diplomatic ties in its wake, the latter’s visiting King has met with Indian Prime Narendra Modi on Nov 6 and reaffirmed the unique traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The two countries also announced a slew of measures to expand trade and connectivity.

According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Modi agreed that India-Bhutan ties were based on utmost trust. Modi has reiterated India’s continued and full support to the socio-economic development in Bhutan based on the priorities of the Bhutanese government and “as per the vision of His Majesty”.

The two sides have announced nine steps to expand ties in trade, technology, cross-border connectivity, mutual investments, education and people-to-people contacts.

These included the final location survey for a proposed cross-border rail link between Assam and Bhutan, immigration check-post to facilitate entry and exit of third country nationals by land route for connectivity and tourism, and designation of an additional railway trade route for trade between the two countries. India has also agreed to positively consider Bhutan’s request for concessional financing in skill development and capacity-building.

The two leaders have agreed that India and Bhutan have enjoyed long-standing and exceptional bilateral ties characterised by “utmost trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding at all levels”, while expressing satisfaction with the significant progress made since their last meeting in Apr 2023.

India will also provide bridge financing for the period between 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans of Bhutan for India-assisted projects and schemes.

In other announcements, India has agreed to allocate additional MBBS seats for Bhutanese students in medical colleges in Assam and double the outlay under Ambassador’s scholarship for Bhutanese students pursuing higher education in India.

“The visit of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan, reinforced the long-standing tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries,” the joint statement said.

The king has expressed appreciation for India’s support and handed an invite to Modi to visit Bhutan, which the later accepted, reported the timesofindia.com Nov 7.

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