Thimphu, May 16 : Welcoming Bhutan into the fraternity of democratic nations, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today assured the Bhutanese leadership of India's full support and cooperation, as it "embarks upon a new and exciting journey".
Delivering a speech at a State banquet held in his honour by Bhutan's Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley here, Dr. Singh described Bhutan as one of India's closest friends and neighbours, and emphasized that " A visit to Bhutan is a special occasion for any Indian Prime Minister", saying that visits over the past 50 years "have led to the further strengthening of our unique friendship."
Congratulating Prime Minister Thinley on Bhutan's smooth transition to a democratic Constitutional monarchy, he said New Delhi "deeply valued" Prime Minister Thinley's "personal commitment and contribution to India-Bhutan relations".
"Our relationship is based on the firm foundation of shared historical and cultural linkages. It is a dynamic and progressive relationship, seeking new avenues of cooperation, new complementarities and new opportunities. Our ties have today diversified to cover the entire gamut of political and economic cooperation," Dr. Singh said.
He also lauded Bhutan's commitment to conserving its natural heritage and making judicious use of its resources for its development, an example worthy of emulation.
He concluded by describing Bhutan as a bastion of peace and tranquility, and that India looked forward to continuing its cooperation with Thimphu on mutual issues of interest to both countries. By Ashok Dixit