Security issues on the table as PM meets Bhutan King


King Jigme Khesar Namgyel and Narendra Modi discuss ‘entire gamut’ of ties and progress in boundary talks between China and Bhutan, particularly about Doklam, says Foreign Secretary

Points to Ponder:

  • India and Bhutan have a close security partnership that is characterized by trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding.
  • During a meeting in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck addressed the latest situation along the India-Bhutan border as well as the progress in boundary negotiations between China and Bhutan, especially above the Doklam trijunction point.
  • While strategic issues were addressed, the emphasis of the discussions was on bilateral relations, with discussions centered on Bhutan’s Transformation Initiatives and Reforms Process and India’s support for Bhutan’s development plans, including the 13th Five-Year Plan.
  • The two nations have discussed infrastructure and connectivity initiatives, energy cooperation, and space cooperation, including the recent launch of the India-Bhutan satellite.
  • The leaders also addressed the decreasing number of Bhutanese students studying in India, with both countries looking for new ways to strengthen their relationship.
  • Bhutan is expected to leave the list of Least Developed Countries in 2023, and its 21st-century Economic Roadmap seeks to transform the Himalayan kingdom into a developed country with a per-capita income of $12,000 within the next ten years.
  • India has agreed to raise power tariffs for the Chhukha hydroelectric project, which started operations in 1986 with India’s assistance. The two nations have also discussed purchasing power from the Basochhu hydropower project and accelerating negotiations on the Sankosh hydropower project.
  • Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering recently stated that a demarcation line on disputed regions to Bhutan’s north with China could be drawn within the next few rounds of border talks. Mr. Kwatra, however, declined to remark on any particular details of Mr. Modi’s conversation with the Bhutanese King regarding the latest developments between Thimphu and Beijing.
  • India has reiterated that any issues concerning the trijunction between India, China, and Bhutan will be handled trilaterally.