Bhutan king arrives in Delhi, to call on Prez, PM tomorrow

Bhutan king arrives in Delhi, to call on Prez, PM tomorrow

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday received the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, as he landed in New Delhi with his wife and child.

This is the first visit of the King of Bhutan to New Delhi after India and China had a 72-day-long military face-off at Doklam Plateau in the Himalayan Kingdom's western region. His wife Pema Wangchuck and child Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck are accompanying him on the four-day visit to New Delhi.

"Special gesture for a valued friend. EAM @SushmaSwaraj receives Their Majesties, The King, The Queen and The Gyalsey (Prince) of Bhutan," Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of Extrnal Affairs, tweeted.

The King will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence - 7 Lok Kalyan Marg - on Wednesday. Sushma will also formally call on him on Wednesday. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will call on him on Thursday.

The prime minister will host a dinner in honour of the royal couple. Bhutan transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in 2008. It now has a democratically elected parliament and a government, currently led by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The King, however, continues to be the ceremonial Head of State and holds considerable influence over internal and external affairs of the country.

"India and Bhutan enjoy unique ties, which are characterised by deep understanding and mutual trust," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel had come to Doklam Plateau a disputed territory on the Bhutan-China border on June 16 and started building a road, brushing off protests by Royal Bhutan Army soldiers camping nearby. The Indian Army personnel from the nearby Doka La post in Sikkim had intervened two days later, leading to the stand-off.

Though Beijing withdrew its troops from Doklam Plateau on August 28 to end the military stand-off, both New Delhi and Thimphu are worried over the Chinese PLA's move to deploy more troops in its forward posts close to the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction boundary point. The PLA also purportedly intruded into the territory claimed by Thimphu along the disputed China-Bhutan boundary at least thrice in recent weeks.

The issue is likely to be discussed when the King of Bhutan will have a meeting with Modi.

"The visit will provide an opportunity to both the sides for reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, including plans for befitting celebrations of the golden jubilee of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in the year 2018, and to advance the special bilateral ties," Kumar said.

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