PM Modi vows to nurture 'Bharat to Bhutan' ties on first foreign tour
Embarking on a two-day trip here to display "special and unique" status for Bhutan in India's foreign policy, Prime Minister Modi also inaugurated the Supreme Court complex built by India as part of the developmental cooperation.
"The primary focus of both the meetings was the extensive development cooperation between the two countries and measures to enhance the economic ties," official sources said. Modi described the bilateral relations as "B2B relations Bharat to Bhutan relations," the sources said on his meeting with Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.
Modi announced doubling of scholarships being provided to Bhutanese students in India which will now be worth Rs two crore. Prime Minister Modi also promised to assist Bhutan in setting up a digital library which will provide access to Bhutanese youth to two million books and periodicals.
The fact that the Prime Minister chose Bhutan as his first foreign destination assumes significance since China has lately intensified efforts to woo it and establish full- fledged diplomatic ties with Thimphu. Modi, accompanied by External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, was accorded a grand welcome as he arrived at the Paro airport and was received by Tobgay and several of his Cabinet colleagues.
The Bhutanese government rolled out the red carpet as Modi was given a ceremonial guard of honour. The Prime Minister drove down from Paro to Thimphu, a distance of about 50 km, traversing through the picturesque mountainous ranges.
Common people, including children, in colourful attire lined up most of the road between Paro and Thimphu, waving Indian and Bhutanese flags.
Big hoardings carrying Modi's photographs also could be seen en route. Modi's meeting with the Bhutanese King lasted for nearly an hour and then he held talks with Tobgay.
Modi expressed satisfaction at India being considered as a privileged partner of Bhutan and underlined that his government "would not only nurture these strong bonds but would also strengthen them."