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3:11 pm - Thursday November 24, 3735

India, Bhutan pledge to boost “exemplary relations”

Agencies, New Delhi

Over two months since the end of standoff between India and China over the buildup in Doklam sector, New Delhi and Thimpu on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to advance “exemplary relations” across diverse sectors of cooperation.

“The two sides agreed to celebrate in the year 2018 the golden jubilee of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries in a befitting manner,” an MEA statement said here. The visiting Bhutanese King held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind.

“His Majesty the King of Bhutan and the Prime Minister of India expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their commitment to advance these exemplary relations across diverse sectors of cooperation.

His Majesty the King conveyed appreciation for the invaluable support that the Government of India provides for Bhutan’s socio-economic development,” the MEA statement said.

The President Ram Nath Kovind extended an invitation to Their Majesties the King and Queen of Bhutan to pay a State visit to India during the golden jubilee year, next year. His Majesty the King of Bhutan accepted the invitation, the statement said.

King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his royal family arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a four-day visit to India. The visit is in keeping with the long-standing tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries.

The Bhutan King’s visit would provide an opportunity to both the sides for reviewing theentire gamut of bilateral cooperation. Notably, the Bhutanese King’s visit came weeks after the stand-off between India and China at Doklam plateau in Bhutan has cooled off.

The standoff that had triggered a big row between Indian side and Chinese army in June over Chinese moves to build a road in an area claimed by Bhutan, ended in August, with both India and China decidingto “disengage” from the face-off point.

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, senior Ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and officials will call on His Majesty, the King of Bhutan during the visit. The meetings between both sides were held in a “very warm and cordial atmosphere” – reflecting the spirit of mutual trust and understanding that characterize the exceptionally friendly ties between the two countries, the MEA statement said.

The visit of the King and Queen “marks an important milestone in the close and friendly relations” between the two countries and has contributed significantly towards “further strengthening the profound friendship between India and Bhutan”, the MEA statement said.

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