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India, Bhutan vow to strengthen ties, ink 10 MoUs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese couterpart Lotay Tshering jointly inaugurate the Mangdechhu hydroelectric project, in Bhutan on August 17, 2019. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@PMOIndia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese couterpart Lotay Tshering jointly inaugurate the Mangdechhu hydroelectric project, in Bhutan on August 17, 2019. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@PMOIndia  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering held wide ranging talks on Saturday and discussed steps to further expand the bilateral partnership across several sectors. The two countries also signed 10 MoUs to infuse new energy in their ties.

“We had a comprehensive meeting, where we deliberated on the relations between India and Bhutan. There is great scope to further improve economic and cultural ties between our nations,” Mr. Modi said. 

Power plant opened

Earlier, Mr. Modi, who is here on his second visit to Bhutan, inaugurated the Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant and also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan hydropower cooperation.

 “I am very happy to come to Bhutan at the beginning of my second term,” Mr. Modi said in a joint press statement after delegation-level talks with his Bhutanese counterpart at the historic Simtokha Dzong.

The two countries signed 10 MoUs in the fields of space research, aviation, IT, power and education.

RuPay card launched

Mr. Modi also launched the RuPay Card in Bhutan by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, which functions as a monastic and administrative centre and is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan.

 “I am very happy that today we have launched RuPay card in Bhutan. This will further enhance our relationship in digital payments, and trade and tourism. Our shared spiritual heritage and strong people-to-people relationship are key of our relations,” he said.

On increasing the currency swap limit for Bhutan under the SAARC currency swap framework, Modi said India’s approach is “positive“.

 He said an additional $100 million will be available to Bhutan under a standby swap arrangement to meet the foreign exchange requirement.

 The two leaders also unveiled an e-plaque on the interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network.

“It is a privilege for India to be a major partner in the development of Bhutan. India’s cooperation in Bhutan’s five-year plans will continue,” Mr. Modi said.

 The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Ground Earth Station and SATCOM network, developed with assistance from ISRO for utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan. 

Mr. Modi said India is committed to facilitating Bhutan’s development through the use of space technology.

 He said the collaboration and relationship between Royal Bhutan University and IITs of India and some other top educational institutions are in line with today’s requirements for education and technology. “I believe that India and Bhutan will remain a unique model of relations between two countries in the world,” he said.

On his part, Prime Minister Tshering said India and Bhutan may vary in size but their beliefs, values and motivation are common.

“On his (Modi) first visit to Bhutan, I remember him saying that Bhutan and India are close not because we have open borders, but because we have opened our hearts to each other. Your visit this time shows how much you meant it,” he said.

Mr. Modi also planted a sapling at Simtokha Dzong.

Earlier, Prime Minister Modi inspected a guard of honour during his ceremonial welcome at Tashichhodzong Palace here.

“Traditional Chipdrel procession and welcome ceremony at the Tashichhodzong Palace for PM @narendramodi before the audience with His Majesty the King of Bhutan. The ceremony symbolises the purification of path along which the guests are led,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi received a red-carpet welcome at the Paro airport where he was received by the Bhutanese Prime Minister. “I am extremely grateful to @PMBhutan for welcoming me at the airport. His gesture is deeply touching,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

 “A memorable welcome in Bhutan! This is a land blessed with natural beauty and wonderful people. There is immense enthusiasm here and the people of Bhutan want to see the India-Bhutan friendship scale newer heights of success,” the Prime Minister said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 3:14:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-modi-inaugurates-mangdechhu-hydroelectric-power-plant-in-bhutan/article29120270.ece

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