New Delhi: Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, accompanied by Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuk and Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk, are on a four-day visit to India. They were received at the airport on Tuesday by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The visit is significant as it comes close on the heels of the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Bhutan’s Doklam plateau.
Here is your 10-point cheat sheet on the visit:
- The King is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today. This morning, the couple met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
- Discussions on China are expected to top the agenda between the Bhutanese King and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- President Ram Nath Kovind will host a dinner in honor of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the visiting Bhutanese delegation.
- The visit is their first visit since India and China ended a 73-day-old standoff on Doklam plateau in the Himalayan kingdom two months ago.
- An External Affairs Ministry statement said: “The visit would provide an opportunity to both the sides for reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, including plans for befitting celebrations of golden jubilee of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in the year 2018, and to advance the special bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation.”
- India is resisting Beijing’s efforts to bypass New Delhi and bilaterally settle border dispute at Doklam with Bhutan. According to India, the area falls in a tri-junction ie, between Bhutan, India and China, and can be settled only after an agreement between all three parties.
- Experts say the visit will send a strategic signal to Beijing which has been trying to make inroads into the Himalayan kingdom.
- Bhutan was the first country Prime Minister Modi chose to visit after taking office in 2014.
- Bhutan is a key member in New Delhi’s initiative —the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC – that has been pushed as an alternative to SAARC. The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation SAARC has been rendered almost defunct due to tensions between India and Pakistan.
- India is also keen to tap into Bhutan’s hydel power potential of about 30,000 MW and is already developing many projects in the Himalayan Kingdom.