New Delhi [India], November 6 (ANI): India and Bhutan on Monday agreed to extend the existing energy partnership to non-hydro renewables such as solar as well as green initiatives for hydrogen, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirming India’s abiding commitment to its unique ties of friendship and cooperation with the neighbouring country.
Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is on a visit to India, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday.
A joint statement issued during the Bhutan King’s visit said that the two leaders held discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The Bhutan King, who is accompanied by senior officials, is on an official visit to India from November 3 to 10.
Before coming to New Delhi, the Bhutan King visited Assam. He will later travel to Maharashtra.
The Bhutan King commended the “excellent organization of the recently concluded G20 Summit hosted by India”, and forging consensus for constructive decisions and outcomes contained in the Delhi Declaration.
He particularly appreciated India’s efforts in effectively integrating the interest and priorities of the countries in the Global South in the G20 deliberations and outcome documents.
The statement said that India and Bhutan enjoy long-standing and exceptional bilateral ties characterized by utmost trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding at all levels.
The visit provided an opportunity for the two sides to discuss various aspects of the multi-faceted bilateral ties and forge an understanding to further cooperate across diverse sectors.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction with the significant progress made since their last meeting in April 2023.
They positively assessed the expanding partnership between the two countries, including in new areas of connectivity in its broadest form, cross-border trade infrastructure, trade and mutual investments, energy, health, education, skill development, space technology, and environment conservation, and close people-to-people contacts.
The Bhutan King shared valuable perspective and insights on ongoing reforms process underway in his country. He conveyed appreciation for the invaluable support that the Government of India continues to provide for Bhutan’s socio-economic development.
“The Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s abiding commitment to its unique ties of friendship and cooperation with Bhutan and reiterated continued and full support to the socio-economic development in Bhutan based on the priorities of the Royal Government and as per the vision of His Majesty,” the statement said.
The Bhutanese side thanked the Indian government for the timely release of development assistance to ensure the smooth and uninterrupted conclusion of crucial projects under the 12th Five-Year Plan (2018-2023).
To take the exemplary bilateral partnership forward, the Indian side reiterated commitment to step up support for Bhutan’s 13th Five-Year Plan, which was welcomed by the Bhutanese side.
Hydropower cooperation has been an important pillar of India-Bhutan bilateral economic partnership and it has been a productive partnership for both countries. The two sides welcomed the export of surplus power by Basochhu hydropower project through the Indian Energy Exchange beginning October 2023, paving the way for access to another energy market.
The two sides expressed satisfaction with the progress in construction of the 1020 MW Punatshangchhu-II hydropower project and looked forward to its early commissioning in 2024. They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards the speedy conclusion of the Punatsangchhu-I hydropower project. The two sides reiterated the importance of cooperation in hydropower sector, and their commitment to advancing it further.
“It was agreed to extend the existing India-Bhutan energy partnership in hydro to non-hydro renewables, such as solar as well as green initiatives for hydrogen and e-mobility. The Indian side assured necessary technical and financial support for projects in these areas,” the statement said.
In terms of new areas of partnership, which now encompasses Startups, Space and STEM education, both sides welcomed the progress made in space sector cooperation, including the launch of the first satellite jointly developed by India and Bhutan and the inauguration of the satellite’s ground-earth station in Thimphu this year.
The two sides expressed satisfaction on the increased collaboration in the field of education, with emphasis on STEM disciplines. The Indian side welcomed Bhutan’s decision to join the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA).
During the visit to Assam, state Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma called on the Bhutan King and discussed a wide range of issues, including rail connectivity, cross-border trade infrastructure, economic cooperation, tourism, education, skill development, environmental conservation, and nurturing people-to-people connections. (ANI)