New Delhi, Jul 16: Bhutan's first democratically elected Prime Minister, Jigmi Y. Thinley, today called for greater cooperation between India and Bhutan.
"We will be talking about how we can further deepen and strengthen our relationship through various forms of cooperation and expansion in the new areas and dimensions. We should be able to not only promote Bhutan development, but certainly undertake activities that will be for the mutual benefit of our two countries," said Thinley after inspecting a guard of honour. Thinley, who is on his maiden visit to India after assuming office, was accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
He was received by his Indian counterpart, Dr. Manmohan Singh with whom Thinley is to hold discussions on a wide range of issues this evening. .
Issues like border management, security, cooperation in hydropower, health and tourism are expected to be considered during the meeting.
Both leaders are also likely to hold discussions on developing the Tala Hydropower Project to India and Bhutan. The Tala power project, which was commissioned on March 30, 2007, is expected to further boost the tapping of the estimated 30,000-megawatt of hydro-power resources that Bhutan possesses. As of now the identified techno-commercially feasible potential is about 23,500 megawatt out which only 1488 megawatt installed capacity is exploited at present. After completion, the project will generate 4,865 million units of power in an average year. It would also provide 1122 megawatt of peaking power throughout the year. Surplus power generated from the project will be exported to India through 400 KV transmission lines to a pooling point in Siliguri, and from there to India's Eastern and Northern Grids.
Thinley will also call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Hamid Ansari. He will also meet External Affairs Minster Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani. Thinley is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Affairs Minister Ugyen Tshering, Economic Affairs Minister Khandu Wangchuk and Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu.