“Discussions during the visit will include the whole gamut of bilateral relations. We are privileged to be partnering Bhutan in its economic development. Our assistance package comprises Rs.4,500 crore for Bhutan’s 11th five-year plan from 2013 to 2018, and covers areas from infrastructure, information and communication technology, to health, agriculture, human resource development and tourism,” said Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.

“We also assist Bhutan in implementing smaller projects such as schools, libraries, hostel facilities for students, veterinary hospitals, irrigation channels, drinking water schemes and community centres,” she added.

Singh said India’s hydropower cooperation with Bhutan is a classic example of win-win cooperation.

“The hydropower projects generate export revenues for Bhutan, cement our economic partnership, and provide clean and low-cost electricity to India. Three hydroelectric projects totalling 1416 MW are already operational. Three more projects are under construction. They are scheduled to be commissioned in 2017-18,” said Singh.

“In April 2014 we signed a framework agreement on four more joint venture model hydroelectric projects totalling 2120 MW. Of these, the preconstruction activities of the 600 MW Kholongchu hydroelectric project as a joint venture model between Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and Druk Green Power Corporation will commence shortly,” she added.

The Foreign Secretary further said, “Our bilateral trade amounted to Rs.6,830 crore in 2012. India has also invested in 16 projects in Bhutan in areas such as hydropower, cement and information technology. A free trade regime is in place between India and Bhutan. Further measures to boost trade will also be discussed.”

“Education, media and tourism hold good potential for enhanced cooperation in the future. We will explore ways and means of strengthening our ties in these important areas,” she added.

Singh said the Prime Minister’s visit reflects the high priority that Government of India attaches to its relations with Bhutan and to good neighbourly relations in our South Asian neighbourhood.

In Bhutan the Prime Minister will meet His Majesty the King of Bhutan, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and the Prime Minister of Bhutan. He will also address a Joint Session of the National Assembly and National Council of Bhutan, and meet the Leader of the Opposition.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh will accompany Modi.

The visit comes days after Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s visit to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 26.

Modi had also held a meeting with the Bhutanese leader on May 27.

Bhutan is the first foreign country that the Prime Minister is visiting after being sworn-in.

(JPN)

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