Modi thanks Bhutan for support after Uri attack
Benaulim (Goa), Oct 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay for the support given by the Himalayan kingdom after last month’s cross-border terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.
He spoke during a bilateral meeting with Tobgay who has come here to attend the BRICS-Bimstec Outreach Summit.
“The Prime Minister thanked Prime Minister Tobgay for the very strong support that Bhutan had rendered after the Uri terror attack as also the solidarity shown in relation to the Saarc summit,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing here after the meeting.
“He (Tobgay) said that the people and the government of Bhutan were deeply concerned at the deteriorating security situation in the region, caused entirely on account of terrorism,” he said.
“He said that terrorism in all its forms is unacceptable, but cross-border terrorism and he specifically used the word cross border terrorism is truly the worst form of terrorism.”
The September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army camp at Uri claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers.
Blaming the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack, New Delhi launched a diplomatic blitz to isolate Islamabad internationally.
Modi also pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November this year blaming Pakistan for state sponsorship of terrorism.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan too followed suit citing the same reason while Sri Lanka held that a Saarc summit would not be possible in India’s absence.
As host of this year’s BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit, India chose to invite neighbouring countries from the Bimstec grouping over those of Saarc.
Countries belonging to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) are India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The invitation to Bimstec countries is being seen as another move by India to isolate Pakistan internationally.
In Sunday’s meeting, Tobgay said that said that the whole region and the international community had stood with India in the aftermath of the Uri terrorist attack and Bhutan stood shoulder to shoulder with India.
“In particular, he praised Prime Minister Modi’s leadership on the issue, both diplomatically and on the ground,” Swarup said.
Tobgay conveyed his appreciation for India’s assistance which is touching the lives of every Bhutanese.
“In this context, he referred to the 84 big projects which are being implemented with Indian assistance and the 595 small development projects which he said had reached every village and town of Bhutan,” said Swarup, adding Tobgay also talked about two or three projects that had been announced during Modi’s 2014 visit to Bhutan.
“He said that the e-library project had been going very well and 72 schools had joined that project.
“He praised the initiative to double the Nehru-Wangchuk scholarships which have now enabled young Bhutanese to access some of the best educational institutes in India.”
The Bhutanese Prime Minister said that the cooperation in the hydro-electrical sector was very significant because it was also contributing to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions.
“There was then a discussion on the upcoming 50 years of diplomatic ties between India and Bhutan which is coming up in 2018 and he (Tobgay) sought PM’s advise and suggestions as to how both countries could celebrate the occasion in a befitting manger,” Swarup said.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)