Bhutan king breaks protocol to receive prez

RSTV Bureau

Presi_queenPresident Pranab Mukherjee on Friday arrived on a two-day visit to Bhutan and was received by the King and his wife in a special gesture.

Bhutan  King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck along with his wife turned up unexpectedly at the airport as a special gesture by breaking protocol to receive Mukherjee.

It is the first visit by any Indian head of state in 26 years, during which some agreements in education sector are likely to be signed.

During the visit, Mukherjee will meet King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay besides other leaders to help expand bilateral ties to a new level.

The President is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, Members of Parliament Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Anil Shirole, Mahendra Nath Pandey (all BJP) and Gaurav Gogoi (Congress), besides officials and representatives of a few educational and academic institutions.

Sources said as India is keen to revive the ancient Nalanda University, an agreement will be signed for seeking cooperation from Bhutan in this regard.

Mukherjee’s visit to Bhutan comes nearly five months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to that country. It was Modi’s first foreign visit as Prime Minister.

The meetings of the President with the King of Bhutan and the Bhutanese Prime Minister, who will call on him, will provide an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual interest and ways of further strengthening our close bilateral relations.

India shares a unique and special relationship with Bhutan nurtured by successive Kings of Bhutan and Indian leaders.

Mukherjee then travelled by road to Thimphu (about 50 km) as hundreds of school children were lined up along the way, holding Indian and Bhutanese flag.

Mukherjee was given a ceremonial guard of honour at Tashichhoedzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress which has traditionally been the seat of the head of Bhutan’s civil government located on the northern edge of Thimphu.

Ahead of the guard of honour, a traditional ‘Chipdrel procession’ was also held. The procession is hosted specially by the Bhutan King for heads of the states who visit his country.

It is believed that this traditional custom brings good fortune for the country and goodwill with its neighbours.

President Mukherjee and King Jigme later held bilateral talks. After the talks, photographs of the two were clicked during which the monarch’s father Jigme Singye Wangchuck was also present.

During the visit, Mukherjee will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay besides other leaders to take bilateral ties to a new level.

The meetings of the President with the Bhutanese leadership will provide an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual interest and ways of further strengthening close bilateral relations.

Visit not connected to Bhutan-China border talks: Mukherjee

Asserting that his Bhutan visit has nothing to do with the country’s border talks with China, President Pranab Mukherjee has said Indo-Bhutanese ties are independent of any third party influence and have great potential to scale new heights on their own.