Weeks after boundary talks with China, Bhutan King begins India visit on Friday | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Weeks after boundary talks with China, Bhutan King begins India visit on Friday

Nov 02, 2023 02:32 PM IST

The trip comes weeks after China and Bhutan held the 25th round of boundary talks in Beijing and signed a cooperation agreement on Bhutan-China boundary

NEW DELHI: Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck will make an official visit to India during November 3-10 against the backdrop of reports that China and Bhutan are inching towards an agreement on resolving their disputed boundary.

Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and senior Indian officials during the November 3-10 visit. (PTI FILE PHOTO)
Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and senior Indian officials during the November 3-10 visit. (PTI FILE PHOTO)

Wangchuck will be accompanied by senior officials of the Bhutan government for the visit, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The king will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and senior Indian officials during the visit.

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The king will also visit the states of Assam, which borders Bhutan, and Maharashtra.

India and Bhutan “enjoy unique ties of friendship and cooperation, which are characterised by understanding and mutual trust”, the statement said. The visit would be an opportunity for both sides to review the gamut of bilateral cooperation and to “advance the exemplary bilateral partnership, across diverse sectors”.

The trip comes weeks after China and Bhutan held the 25th round of boundary talks in Beijing and signed a cooperation agreement on the “Responsibilities and Functions of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) on the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Bhutan-China Boundary”.

The two countries held their last round of border talks in 2016 and the new agreement builds on the three-step roadmap finalised in 2021 for resolving the boundary issue. The first technical talks on delimiting the boundary were held in August, and experts believe this was an indication that Bhutan and China have agreed on a possible alignment for their disputed border.

Bhutan foreign minister Tandi Dorji met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing following the border talks with vice foreign minister Sun Weidong. The cooperation agreement was signed during these talks and both sides have said they want a border deal soon.

The speed with which the recent talks between Bhutan and China have progressed has surprised observers in New Delhi. People familiar with the matter believe the Bhutan king could use his visit to explain Bhutan’s position on the boundary talks with China to the Indian leadership.

Bhutan has been a key beneficiary of India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy and was the biggest beneficiary of the country’s external aid in the 2023-24 budget, being allocated 2,400 crore out of the total outlay of 5,408 crore as assistance for foreign countries.

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