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Business News/ Politics / News/  Foreign secretary Kwatra visits Bhutan as new government takes office
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Foreign secretary Kwatra visits Bhutan as new government takes office

The visit holds significance as the new government prepares to tackle the complex task of negotiating a border settlement with China.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra. (File Photo: ANI)Premium
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra. (File Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra began a three-day visit to Bhutan on Monday, a day after newly-elected Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay assumed office. The visit holds significance as the new government prepares to tackle the complex task of negotiating a border settlement with China. 

During his visit, Kwatra is scheduled to meet with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Prime Minister Tsobgay, along with other high-ranking Bhutanese officials, including the foreign minister.

In 2021, Bhutan and China agreed to a three-step roadmap to address their unresolved border dispute. This roadmap involves delineating the border on maps, followed by surveys and formal demarcation, according to some observers. Progress in these border talks has been relatively swift, with the establishment of technical teams and the 25th round of border talks held in August and October 2023, respectively.

The resolution of the border issue is expected to pave the way for formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and China. Bhutan, which has faced economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and labour outflows, stands to benefit from potential Chinese investments.

On the other hand, India closely monitors these border negotiations, particularly in the context of the Doklam tri-junction, where past standoffs have occurred. Bhutan has been a longstanding diplomatic ally of India and has faced increasing pressure from China to settle the boundary dispute.

Both Bhutan and India maintain open communication regarding the progress of talks between Thimpu and Beijing. Bhutan's King made two visits to India in 2023, holding multiple high-level meetings. India has reaffirmed its support for Bhutan's five-year plans and the hydropower sector, emphasizing the strong bilateral ties between the two nations.

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Published: 29 Jan 2024, 07:41 PM IST
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