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India-Bhutan ink 12 agreements
Published on 22 Dec. 2009 11:53 PM IST
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India and Bhutan Tuesday inked a dozen agreements on hydropower, civil aviation, health and IT after Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck held extensive talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The 29-year-old Bhutanese sovereign is on his first foreign visit since his formal coronation in November 2008. He arrived on a six-day visit Monday morning. On Tuesday, the Bhutanese King began his programme with a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan. He then laid a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna called on the young king at his suite in Taj Mahal Hotel after which he left for Hyderabad House in the heart of the city to meet the prime minister. The delegation-level talks between the king and the prime minister were followed by more restricted consultations. Thereafter, both sides signed 12 agreements, including on hydropower, civil aviation, health and IT. The agreements included a decision to prepare the detailed project report of three proposed hydro-power projects and a reservoir project. India has already given assistance to build three major hydroelectric projects at Chukha, Kurichu and Tala. Besides, it is also helping in the construction of Punatsangchhu-1 project. India gets a “substantial” part of the power generated from these projects, which have in fact led to the reversal of the balance of trade since 2006. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced in 2008 that it will help Bhutan build additional installed capacity of 10,000 megawatt in hydropower by 2020. Besides India had also agreed to give assistance of Rs.2.05 billion for an information technology project, which will make more than half of the Bhutan population e-literate. The Bhutanese king also met Vice President Hamid Ansari, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.

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