India and Bhutan have formally demarcated their 699-km border with the two neighbours signing the final strip maps, 45 years after the process for settling the boundary began, officials on Wednesday said.
A Bhutanese foreign ministry official said officials of the two countries on Tuesday signed the 'mutually demarcated border' maps at a meeting in Bhutan's capital Thimphu.
"This is indeed a landmark agreement as the two countries had mutually agreed to demarcate the borders without any differences of opinion," the Bhutanese official who wished not to be named told the agency by telephone from Thimphu.
India's ambassador to Bhutan, Sudhir Vyas, and the kingdom's secretary for international boundaries, Dasho Pema Wangchuk, signed the border agreement.
"This is a mutually agreed boundary between the two countries. This line is not a border, it is a marker of friendship between our two countries," the Indian ambassador was quoted as saying by Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel.
Bhutan shares borders with the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh in its east, Sikkim in the west and Assam and West Bengal in the south. The Himalayan kingdom also shares border with Nepal and China.
The two countries have decided to erect border pillars and markers to define the boundary. The India-Bhutan border is unfenced and separated by concrete pillars in some places.
"The process which involved surveys, delineations and enormous activities on the ground, in the office and on the drawing board resulted in the completion of preparing, finalising and signing the strip maps that define the boundary between Bhutan and India," Vyas said.
The process for demarcating the border began in 1961 with India sketching the boundary maps.
"The process took long because in a lot of places, pillars were either destroyed requiring re-erection or they were found to be slightly away from description," India's surveyor general M Gopal Rao was quoted as saying by Kuensel.
"One of the most significant things that came out of the whole process was the signing of the documents, which indicated that there were no differences between the two countries."
Bhutan is, however, yet to full demarcate its 470-km border with China.
"Talks with China about the boundary demarcation were progressing well. We only have about 269 square kilometres left to be discussed with the Chinese government," Wangchuk said.