External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a two-day visit to Bhutan from Friday, the ministry announced on Thursday. This will be his first official visit abroad as the External Affairs Minister and reflects the importance that India attaches to its bilateral relationship with Bhutan, "a close friend, and neighbour", MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Jaishankar will meet the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering, who was also present at Rashtrapati Bhavan for the swearing-in of the Narendra Modi-led government on May 30, and will also meet his counterpart, Dr Tandi Dorji, Foreign Minister of Bhutan. He will also hold a meeting with the King of Bhutan, H.M. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
"India and Bhutan share a unique and time tested bilateral relationship, characterized by utmost trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding," the MEA spokesperson said while addressing a news briefing.
During the visit, the two sides are expected to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including upcoming high-level exchanges, economic development, and hydro-power cooperation.
Jaishankar has previously served as Foreign Secretary from 2015-2018 and was appointed as Minister of External Affairs in the newly formed BJP-led NDA government.
Earlier on Thursday, during his first public address after taking up his new post, Jaishankar had spoken about how India's improved standing on the global stage had been accepted by citizens.
"Most Indians recognize that India's global stature has risen in the last five years and this played a role in the NDA government retaining power for a second consecutive term," he said.
While highlighting India's relationships within its immediate neighbourhood, Jaishankar said that the priority has been to focus on the regional grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) rather than SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation).
"BIMSTEC is witnessing a great deal of positive energy. It was decided to leverage that and invite the leaders of BIMSTEC nations to the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Modi last month," he said, cementing India's snub to Pakistan which is among the chief SAARC outliers in the BIMSTEC grouping.
After taking charge, Jaishankar held telephonic conversations with his French and Turkish counterparts with a focus on enhancing the bilateral ties with the two countries. He termed his conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as "cordial".