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PM Modi to visit Bhutan in August

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PM Modi to visit Bhutan in August

Furthering India's "neighbourhood first" policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Bhutan on August 17-18.

This would be Modi's first trip since the Doklam tri-junction military face-off in 2017 which led to heightened tensions between India and China after the Chinese troops intruded into a disputed territory between China and Bhutan.

While no official announcement has been made by New Delhi, Bhutan's prime minister Dr Lotay Tshering confirmed this at a 'meet the press' event on Friday, according to a local newspaper report in Bhutan.

The two sides would be signing some important Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) during PM Modi's visit.

"The itinerary is not yet confirmed but there are four to five memoranda of understanding to be signed and few major projects to be declared. We are working on the details but it keeps changing," said Dr Tshering.

Bhutan was the first country PM Narendra Modi visited after taking office in 2014, emphasising the importance of this Himalayan nation in India's foreign policy.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar chose Bhutan as his first country to visit after taking oath in May.

Bhutan's premier was one of the leaders invited for the oath-taking ceremony of PM Modi in May this year after he won the general elections. As a member of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) nations, Dr Tshering represented Bhutan at the swearing-in on 30 May.

With China trying to build inroads into Bhutan, India would want to keep this neighbour as close as possible. There already has been an ongoing conversation not only in Beijing but also in Thimphu of opening up diplomatic relations between the two nations.

For India, Bhutan is a key partner where both sides are heavily invested in the relationship. India is looking at many development projects in Bhutan, particularly in the hydro-power sector.

Meanwhile, the local report also stated that Japanese Prince Hisahito of Akishino will also make his first overseas trip to Bhutan which is scheduled next month although the date is not confirmed.

Japan Times stated, "HRH Prince Hisahito, the second inline to the Chrysanthemum Throne is expected to travel to Bhutan in August with his parents, Crown Prince Akishimo and Crown Princess Kiko, in what would be the 12-year-old's first overseas trip."