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PM to address Bhutan Parliament

india Updated: May 13, 2008 15:58 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address the first elected Parliament of Bhutan when he undertakes a two-day visit to the Himalayan country from Friday.

Singh will be the first international leader to address the Parliament which was elected in the maiden elections held on March 24.

During the visit, Singh will hold wide-ranging talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Lyonchen Jigme Y Thinley on issues of mutual interest, including India's development cooperation with the Himalyan kingdom.

The Prime Minister will call on King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

Singh's tour coincides with the 50th anniversary of the visit of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958 when the two countries laid the foundation of the close ties.

The Prime Minister will dedicate the 1020 MW Tala hydroelectric project, built with Indian assistance, to the people of Bhutan and lay the foundation stone of the 1095 MW Punatsangchhu hydel power plant.

Bhutan took its first steps towards democracy by holding elections to Parliament on March 24 in which almost 80 per cent of the nearly four lakh voters exercised their franchise.

Singh will get the first opportunity to interact with the new leadership and take forward the decades old relations characterised by close consultations, maturity, complete trust and mutual understanding.

"The Prime Minister's visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular visits and exchange of views at the highest levels between the two countries," an External Affairs Ministry statement said.