Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck will begin his three-day visit to India beginning Monday, to expand the close bilateral ties, especially in the sphere of economic and development cooperation.
During his visit, he will hold talks with President Draupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar.
“India and Bhutan enjoy unique ties of friendship and cooperation, which are characterized by understanding and mutual trust,” the MEA said in a statement. “The visit would provide an opportunity to both the sides to review the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and to further advance the close bilateral partnership, including economic and development cooperation,” it said.
The visit comes at a time when India appears riled over Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering’s comment that China has an equal say over the Doklam row. “Doklam is a junction point between India, China and Bhutan. It is not up to Bhutan alone to solve the problem,” Tshering said in an interview with La Libre.
“We are three. There is no big or small country, there are three equal countries, each counting for a third,” he added. This is in contrast with Tshering’s 2019 statement where he said that ”no side” should do anything ”unilaterally” near the existing trijunction point between the three countries.
Bhutan PM Lotay Tshering’s ‘China’s say in Doklam’ remarks raises concerns in India
China in recent years stepped efforts to establish diplomatic contacts with Bhutan and to expedite negotiations to reach a settlement for the vexed border dispute which was exasperated by Beijing’s attempts to claim Doklam despite Thimphu’s assertions that the area belonged to it.
India had strongly opposed the construction of the road by the Chinese military at the Doklam tri-junction as it would have impacted its overall security interests since it runs close to the narrow Siliguri Corridor also known as the Chicken Neck connecting India with its North-east. The standoff ended after Beijing dropped its plan to build the road.
China has also ramped up efforts to develop the villages located along borders with India, Bhutan and Nepal with infrastructure development and preferential policies.
Story first published: Monday, April 3, 2023, 12:46 [IST]