A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives here for his first foreign visit after assuming office, his Bhutan counterpart Tshering Tobgay said on Saturday that India remains the corner stone of Bhutan’s foreign policy in an emphatic bid to allay New Delhi’s concerns over the possible implications from Bhutan’s ongoing boundary talks with China.
In strategic terms, Bhutan is a buffer between India and China. And China’s plans to expand the Chumbi Valley by extending its claims on Bhutan’s western boundary would have implications for Siliguri corridor - India’s only access to its north-eastern states.
The ongoing Bhutan-China border talks had begun in 1984. China has also been bidding to open diplomatic ties with Bhutan.
“India is the corner stone of our foreign policy… We do not have a diplomatic relationship with China and it has not prevented us from having cordial ties with them”, Bhutanese PM said.
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He was asked about How Bhutan is balancing between two giants in the region—China and India. Tobgay, who termed Modi’s visit as “extremely significant and historic”, spoke in glowing terms about his country’s ties with ‘special and close’ India.
Tobgay said he was “humbled” by Modi’s decision to make Bhutan his first port of call, soon after the “spontaneous SAARC (south Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) camaraderie” at the Prime Minster’s inaugural. It was for the first time, all SAARC leaders were invited to witness the swearing in of an Indian prime minister.
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The Bhutan PM has also pitched for expanding the India-Bhutan economic ties into “more areas.”