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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

PM Modi looks forward to Bhutan, calls it his 'natural choice' for foreign visit

PTI  New Delhi, June 15, 2014
First Published: 00:39 IST(15/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:54 IST(15/6/2014)

PM Modi, who begins his Bhutan visit today, called it a "natural choice" because of the "unique and special relationship". His trip would focus on making development cooperation "even more effective".

In his pre-departure statement, Modi said relations with Bhutan will be a key foreign policy priority of his government.

"I am looking forward to my first-ever visit to Bhutan and to nurturing and further strengthening India's special relations with Bhutan", said Modi who is undertaking a two-day trip from tomorrow at the invitation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

Read: India cornerstone of Bhutan's policy: Tobgay

"I travel to Bhutan with immense happiness and a strong desire to further strengthen our already strong bond", he said.

He explained why he chose Bhutan as the country of his first foreign visit, three weeks after assuming charge.

"Bound by common interests and shared prosperity, India and Bhutan enjoy a unique and special relationship which has been forged by ties of geography, history and culture. Therefore, Bhutan as the destination for my first visit abroad as Prime Minister is a natural choice", the Prime Minister said.

He said that during his visit, he will have the opportunity to hold detailed discussions with the King and the Prime Minister of Bhutan on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

"I will review with the Bhutanese leadership our development cooperation programme to make it even more effective and responsive to the changing aspirations of the people of Bhutan", Modi said.

"Bhutan and India share a very special relationship that has stood the test of time", Modi said.

He said Bhutan's peaceful and smooth transition to a democratic constitutional monarchy has been a success story. "Its orderly conduct of elections is testimony to the consolidation of its democracy, in accordance with the wise vision of their Majesties."

During the visit, Modi will address the joint session of the parliament of Bhutan. He will also inaugurate one of India?s assistance projects -- the building of the Supreme Court of Bhutan.

"The government of India has been a privileged and leading partner of Bhutan in its socio-economic development. We rejoice in Bhutan's remarkable economic growth and its progress and prosperity. We are committed to continuing our unstinted support to Bhutan in its development efforts", he said in the statement.

He said hydropower cooperation with Bhutan "is a classic example of win-win cooperation and a model for the entire region".

During the visit, he will lay the foundation stone of the 600 MW Kholongchu hydropower project.

"People-to-people contact is an important aspect of our bilateral relations. I intend to discuss with the Bhutanese leadership how to further strengthen these contacts between our countries, particularly among the youth. In this regard, the role of educational links will be very important", he said.


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