Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaches Bhutan

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Thimphu, May 16 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today arrived in Bhutan on a two-day official visit.

Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Thinley received Dr. Singh at the Paro Airport. He will be staying at the Taj Tashi Hotel.

In the afternoon, Dr. Manmohan Singh will inspect the guard of honour at the King's palace Tashi Chhodzong.

After an hour-long meeting with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, Dr. Manmohan Singh will proceed to the National Assembly for discussions with Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Thinley.

Talks between the Indian and Bhutanese delegations will focus on implementing the 1095-megawatt Punatsangchu I Hydroelectric Project. Discussions will also be held on detailed project reports (DPRs) for Punatsangchu-II and Mangdechu Hydroelectric Projects with the intention of completing it within Bhutan's Ninth Five-Year Plan.

In the evening, Dr. Manmohan Singh will attend a banquet by his counterpart Lyonpo Jigme Thinley.

On Saturday morning, the Prime Minister will address a joint session of the Bhutanese Parliament, which comprises the National Assembly of 47 to 55 members and the National Council, which comprises of 25 members, five of whom are nominated by the King.

After meeting the Speaker, Dr. Manmohan Singh will lay the foundation stone of the Tala Hydroelectric Project.

The 1,020-megawatt Tala Hydropower Project at Chukha Dzongkhag in western Bhutan is said to be the largest joint venture between India and Bhutan, and a symbol of their collaboration in power generation.

Later, Dr. Manmohan Singh will meet the previous King Jigme Singye Wangchuk at Dechenchholing Palace. The meeting will be followed by a cultural programme and lunch.

The Prime Minister will leave Bhutan for Bagdogra at 3:30 p.m., where he will address a press conference before embarking for New Delhi.

Ahead of his departure, Dr. Manmohan Singh said that India traditionally enjoyed a unique relationship with Bhutan.

"It is a partnership rooted in close historical and cultural linkages between two friendly sovereign neighbours. Our relations are based on deep mutual trust and confidence," Dr. Singh said.

He said that his visit takes place in a year that holds special significance for Bhutan, and for our relations.

Dr. Manmohan Singh said that year 2008 marks the centenary of the Wangchuck dynasty, the coronation of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and the installation of the first ever democratically elected government in Bhutan.

He added that this year is also the 50th anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's historic visit to Bhutan in 1958, and the first anniversary of the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty. By Ashok Dixit

ANI

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