The India-Bhutan relationship is based on a genuine concern for each other's welfare and interests, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Friday, asserting that New Delhi's development cooperation paradigm with the Himalayan nation is unique, prompted by moral principles and emotional bonds.
Jaishankar, who is here on an official visit at the invitation of his Bhutanese counterpart Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, is Bhutan's first high-level visitor from abroad since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country in March 2020.
He met the country's top leadership, including King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Lyonchhen Lotay Tshering.
Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said that he was privileged to meet the Bhutanese King.
Privileged to be received by His Majesty the King of Bhutan. His vision of transforming Bhutan shapes the direction of our unique partnership, he said in a tweet.
In his remarks at the handing over ceremony for the 12th consignment of medical supplies and e-inaugurations here, the external affairs minister congratulated the Bhutanese government and its people on their success in the fight against COVID-19 in the past two years, the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) said in a statement.
This has been a difficult journey for all of us. I think it is a testimony to our friendship that we have displayed the kind of solidarity that we have done in these times, Jaishankar said.
It is a matter of great satisfaction as well that the bilateral cooperation has continued to flourish even during the difficult period, he said.
Our relationship is based on a genuine concern for each other's welfare and interests.
India's development cooperation paradigm is unique, prompted as much by economic impulse as by moral principles and emotional bonds, the external affairs minister said.
Given the long-standing ties and special bilateral partnership, Bhutan was the natural choice to be the first country to receive the Covishield vaccines under our Vaccine Maitri Initiative, he said.
Jaishankar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often emphasised that Bhutan being a close friend and a privileged neighbour, the friendly people of Bhutan enjoy a special place in the hearts and minds of Indians. This relationship, rooted in history and yet forward looking, always delivers.
I am happy that our traditional relations have grown in new sectors since the Prime Minister's visit in 2019, in keeping with the wishes and aspirations of the Bhutanese people, he said.
In this vein, financial connectivity has touched new heights through the launch of the RuPay card and the BHIM app; our two countries are collaborating closely on STEM through regular placement of Bhutanese youth in our IITs.
We have successfully linked up the Start-Up systems of our two countries via structured workshops; through the National Knowledge Network & the Druk-REN connection and the e-Library project, we have opened up new vistas of education and knowledge sharing between our two countries. I am also pleased to share that the INDIA BHUTAN-SAT is due to launch into space shortly, Jaishankar said.
He joined his Bhutanese counterpart Lyonpo Tandi Dorji in the inauguration of three projects.
We will continue to stand resolutely by your side through a post COVID sustainable recovery which is your current focus, the external affairs minister said.
All visits to Thimphu and to Bhutan are always memorable, but I think this one has a very special sense.
I will return with a great sense of satisfaction that our partnership is as solid as it is special, that it always delivers results, especially in face of daunting challenges as we have experienced in the last two years and above all it responds to the wishes, aspirations and priorities of the people of Bhutan, Jaishankar added.