Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on April 3 began his two-day trip to India with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar receiving him at the airport here, reflecting the importance New Delhi has attached to the visit.
The King will hold talks with President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 4.
“Warm welcome to India, Your Majesty! His Majesty the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived in India a short while ago. His Majesty was received by EAM @DrSJaishankar at the airport,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Bhutan is a strategically important country for India and the defence and security ties between the two sides have witnessed significant expansion in the last few years.
The strategic ties witnessed an upward trajectory in the last few years in the backdrop of a 73-day face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam tri-junction in 2017.
The Doklam plateau is considered an important area for India’s strategic interest.
The standoff at Doklam tri-junction in 2017 began after China tried to extend a road in an area that Bhutan claimed belonged to it.
India had strongly opposed the construction as it would have impacted its overall security interests. The India-China face-off was resolved following several rounds of talks.
In October 2021, Bhutan and China signed an agreement on a “three-step roadmap” to expedite negotiations to resolve their festering boundary dispute.
Bhutan shares an over 400-km-long border with China and the two countries have held over 24 rounds of boundary talks in a bid to resolve the dispute.
The King of Bhutan had a transit visit to Delhi in September last year.
India sent special assistance to Bhutan during the COVID-19 pandemic, It was the first country to receive Covishield vaccines from India.
India has been providing assistance to Bhutan for implementation of its successive ‘Five Year Plans’ since 1961.
India’s assistance towards Bhutan’s XII five-year-plan (2018-23) was ₹4500 crore for various multi-sectoral projects, small development projects and direct budgetary support.
There has been significant cooperation between the two sides in the area of hydro-power projects.
India has consistently been Bhutan’s top trading partner, and remains the leading source of investments in Bhutan.
In November 2021, India formalised the opening of seven new trade routes for Bhutan’s bilateral and transit trade with India and new market access was provided for allowing formal export of 12 agri-products from Bhutan to India.