India agrees new cooperation paradigms with neighbouring Bhutan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "a warm and productive meeting" with Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck here with the two leaders covering the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and issues of respective national interests.

The visit saw a series of measures to further boost ties with India deciding to step up its support to Bhutan's upcoming 13th Five Year Plan, agreeing for an upward revision of tariff of Chhukha hydro-electric project and working for an additional standby credit facility to the neighbouring country. Briefing reporters after meeting between PM Modi and the Bhutan King, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the two countries are also examining and considering setting up the first Integrated Check Post (ICP) along India-Bhutan border.

The two countries agreed on a range of other initiatives including boosting connectivity with India working towards expediting the proposed Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project, which will be the first rail link between the two countries.

India would work for long-term sustainable arrangements for export of agricultural commodities from Bhutan and to expand energy cooperation beyond hydro-electric projects.

Kwatra said the visit of Bhutan King, which has been long in planning, takes forward the long- standing tradition of regular high level exchanges between the two countries.

He said Bhutan King's visit provided excellent opportunities for the two countries to not only review the full range of bilateral engagement but also sketch a roadmap in terms of the next steps "that we would take to further on multifaceted cooperation and partnership".

"In terms of specific outcomes, which we would be following up based on the discussions, it was agreed that India would step up its support to Bhutan's upcoming 13th Five Year Plan. The specifics of the support, its distribution into different projects that is something which is to be worked out between the two systems going forward. At Bhutan's request, India would work to extend an additional standby credit facility. This would be over and above the two existing standby credit facilities that is operating between the two countries," Kwatra said.


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