Modi likely to visit Bhutan on first foreign trip as PM

Modi likely to visit Bhutan on first foreign trip as PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi could undertake his first foreign visit to one of the neighbouring countries, possibly after the Parliament session, and Bhutan maybe the first destination.

Even though diplomats in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are tight-lipped, the prime minister appears to have picked the Himalayan kingdom as his first international stop, suggests a section of the media to which the information was leaked by government sources.

A trusted India ally, Bhutan is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which seems to have received a new life after its leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, were invited for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was among the invitees and had a one-on-one interaction with Modi. Following Modi’s instruction, the diplomatic choice has boiled down to Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh for the first foreign tour. It will be a short affair sandwiched between the two sessions of Parliament.

Without any political solution on the controversial boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, Dhaka is almost ruled out.

Since Nepal is hosting the Saarc summit in Kathmandu in November, there will be another occasion for Modi to travel to Nepal shortly. This leaves Bhutan as the preferred choice, though there is no official word on the tour. 

After a meeting with Tobgay on May 27, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said the two prime ministers agreed to commence four new joint venture hydroelectric projects with a generating capacity of 2120 mw in Bhutan.

They affirmed their mutual security interests and agreed to closely coordinate and cooperate on issues relating to their national interests.

Meanwhile, the diplomats from India and the United States are working out the dates for a bilateral meeting between Barack Obama and Modi in September, when the prime minister is likely to travel to New York for the United Nations General Assembly summit.

Modi is also likely to travel to Brazil in July for the Brics summit, where he would get a chance to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping along with Brazilian President Dilma Roussef and South African President Jacob Zuma.

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