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President appreciates Bhutan King’s role in resolving Doklam

Ram Nath Kovind20171101154013_l

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday deeply appreciated Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s role in resolving the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam region of the Himalayan kingdom.

Kovind said this when the King, accompanied by Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuk and Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk, called on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

The royal couple from the Himalayan kingdom arrived here on Tuesday on a four-day goodwill visit to India.

The visit assumes significance as it comes in the wake of the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam region of Bhutan.

Indian and Chinese troops were locked in an over two-month-long standoff at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan.

The crisis, which erupted in June over Chinese moves to build a road in an area claimed by Bhutan, ended in August, with both sides deciding to "disengage" from the face-off point.

While India and Bhutan said that Beijing’s move violated the status quo in the India-Bhutan-China international trijunction, China claimed that it was its territory.

"The President said that security concerns of India and Bhutan are indivisible and mutual," a statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

"He 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."

Kovind also complimented the King on the successful completion of the first decade of his reign and his vision for a stable, happy and prosperous Bhutan.

"He stated that India is delighted to see the rapid progress made in Bhutan while simultaneously preserving its very special culture as well as protecting the environment," the statement said .

"India has been happy to share its knowledge, experience and resources with Bhutan. Our development cooperation has been guided by the priorities set by the government and people of Bhutan," Kovind stated.

Stating that India and Bhutan shared exemplary bilateral relations, he said: "Our relations are unique and special. Our bilateral ties are based on utmost trust and understanding. We should do everything to make it a model of bilateral cooperation, which will be noted by others in the neighbourhood."

There are a number of institutional mechanisms between India and Bhutan in areas such as security, border management, trade, transit, economic, hydro-power, development cooperation and water resources.

India has set up three hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in Bhutan totalling 1,416 MW, which are operational and exporting surplus power to India. About three-fourths of the power generated is exported and the rest is used for domestic consumption.

India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner. In 2016, bilateral trade stood at Rs 8,723 crore with total imports being Rs 5,528.5 crore (82 per cent of Bhutan’s total imports) and exports recorded at Rs 3,205.2 crore including electricity (90 per cent of Bhutan’s total exports).

Earlier on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the royal family here. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also meet the visiting dignitaries later in the evening.

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