The Indian delegation made a two-day visit to Bhutan just weeks after China and Bhutan agreed to push forward boundary negotiations. On Friday, the Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra concluded his two-day official visit to Bhutan. Both the sides agreed to enhance cooperation between the two nations in various sectors, including energy and education.
“We agreed to enhance collaboration in sectors such as energy, education, and digital through increasing investment prospects in specific projects that will generate lasting positive impacts. Also discussed strengthening trade-related infrastructure and exploring e-commerce platforms to expand our reach in India’s market,” the Bhutan’s PMO said in a statement.
In a statement released by the Indian embassy in Bhutan, the embassy stated that the Kwatra spoke to, “The Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, called on Prime Minister Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Lyonpo (Dr) Tandi Dorji, and held bilateral consultations with Foreign Secretary Aum Pema Choden.” The embassy made it clear that the two sides held “wide-ranging” discussions over several issues.
Meanwhile, the Indian ambassador to Bhutan Sudhakar Dalela took to Twitter to share some of the visuals of the “productive visit”
“Foreign Secretary @AmbVMKwatra concludes a productive two-day official visit to Bhutan. Engaging conversations, positive outcomes, expanding partnership. Thank you Team @IndiainBhutan for your tireless efforts in advancing close ties of friendship and cooperation,” Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela wrote on Twitter. “It was a pleasure meeting Mr. Vinay Kwatra on his maiden official visit to Bhutan as the Foreign Secretary of India. We reviewed various issues of mutual interest and also held preliminary discussions on the next Plan,” the Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji wrote on Twitter.
During his visit, Kawatra met his Bhutanese counterpart Aum Pema Choden and both the Foreign Secretaries Co-chaired the 4th India-Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks (Plan Talks). The Indian embassy stated that Kwatra conveyed India’s firm commitment to Bhutan based on the “priorities of the government and people of Bhutan”. The Bhutanese side on the other hand shared their plans for Bhutan’s 13th Five-Year Plan in the context of ongoing transformation initiatives in Bhutan.
The visit came after border talks with China
Earlier this month, it was reported that China and Bhutan have reached a “positive consensus” over their border dispute. According to a joint statement released by the two nations, the consensus was reached at the 11th Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the China-Bhutan Boundary issues which was held in China’s Kunming City. The boundary discussion between both sides is important to India since Doklam is a matter of concern for India. The contested region lies between China’s Chumbi Valley to the North, Butan’s Ha district to the east, and India’s Sikkim state to the west.
While China used to share a good relationship with Bhutan, things started deteriorating when China invaded Tibet in 1949. India, on the other hand, has shared a solid relationship with Bhutan for time immemorial. Since 1961, India has provided security assistance to landlocked countries. According to the embassy statement, the Indian and the Bhutanese Foreign Secretary jointly inaugurated several key projects during the visit. The projects, which are implemented with the assistance of the Government of India, include Citizen Service portals, the National Single Window portal, and Government Initiated Network Project under the Flagship Digital Drukyul Project.