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India, Bhutan security indivisible: President

Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, with their son Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, call on President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on November 1, 2017.

Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, with their son Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, call on President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on November 1, 2017.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Kovind conveys India’s deep appreciation of the personal involvement of the King in addressing the Doklam standoff

The security of India and Bhutan is “indivisible and mutual”, President Ram Nath Kovind said here on Wednesday. The first such statement on the subject since the Doklam standoff with China ended in August indicates a closer engagement between India and Bhutan after the months-long episode.

Mr. Kovind, who issued the statement after meeting Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in Delhi, thanked the King for his “personal involvement” in addressing the Doklam crisis, the first time a reference has been made to his role during the tensions between India and China.

‘Excellent ties’

“[The President] conveyed deep appreciation for the King of Bhutan’s personal involvement and guidance and the support provided by Bhutan in addressing the recent situation in the Doklam area. He added that the manner in which both India and Bhutan stood together to address the situation in the Doklam area is a clear testimony to our friendship,” said a press release issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan after the King and Queen of Bhutan met Mr. Kovind.

Expressing “satisfaction at the excellent state” of ties in a joint statement issued after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the King also thanked India for its support to Bhutan’s socio-economic development, which includes hydropower projects.

However, neither the External Affairs Ministry nor the Bhutanese Embassy responded to queries from The Hindu about the nature of the King’s role.

Officials said the King, who is on a four-day visit to meet the President, the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers, will return to India for a formal “state visit” next year, which marks the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan statement is significant as it seeks to end speculation over India’s decision to send troops into land caught in a dispute between Bhutan and China.

While Indian officials said the Indian troops went into Doklam at the request of the Royal Bhutanese Army, Bhutan’s government has never said so officially. In statements issued on June 29 and August 29, the Bhutanese Foreign Ministry said China was in violation of its agreements, but gave no statement on the Indian Army’s role there.

Clearing the air

The visit by the Royal couple to Delhi this week is, therefore, being seen as not just a personal one, but one that signals a tacit endorsement of India’s actions during the Doklam crisis, as well as a reaffirmation of ties, analysts said.

President Kovind’s comment that “security concerns of India and Bhutan are indivisible and mutual” is also likely to be analysed closely for whether the two countires are considering a new formulation in their ties post-Doklam.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 4:40:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-bhutan-security-indivisible-president/article19962508.ece

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