Wednesday, Sep 17, 2003
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By Our Diplomatic Correspondent
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said that the Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and the Minister of State for Power, Jaywanti Mehta, also called on the Bhutanese dignitary.
The signing of an agreement for a new hydel power project shows that the energy sector has emerged as a strategic area for cooperation between the two countries. The 870 mw Punatsangchu scheme, for which the two countries have agreed to prepare a detailed project report, will be the fourth Indo-Bhutanese endeavour in the hydel sector. Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, last night, the King said: "Over the past 16 years, the Chukha hydroelectric project, with an installed capacity of 336 mw, has stood as an example of Indo-Bhutan friendship and cooperation".
"The Tala hydroelectric project, which is three times larger than the Chukha project, has been making excellent progress and is expected to be completed by the end of 2005," he said. The visiting dignitary also made a reference to the presence of insurgent camps on the Bhutanese territory. "Over the past several years, an issue of serious security concern to both our countries has been the problem of the militants from Assam and West Bengal who have illegally established camps inside Bhutan.
"Our two governments are in close touch regarding this serious problem and Bhutan is fully committed to the understanding between us, as close friends and allies, that we will not allow our territories to be used against anyone for carrying out activities that are harmful," the King added.
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