India, Bhutan to sign updated treaty this week
Live Punjab News Service
New Delhi -- India and Bhutan will give a contemporary complexion to their fraternal ties by signing an updated treaty of friendship when King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk comes here on a six-day visit Wednesday.
The revision of the 57-year-old treaty is likely to give Bhutan more freedom in crucial areas of foreign policy and military purchases.
"This will be His Majesty's first visit to India after assuming responsibilities as the Fifth Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan," the external affairs ministry said Monday while announcing the king's visit.
"During the visit, the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty is expected to be signed," the ministry added.
Foreign Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and other senior officials will be accompanying the king on this defining visit that is expected to broaden economic and political cooperation between the two countries in tune with contemporary realities.
The updated treaty envisages broad changes that will mean New Delhi giving more freedom to Thimphu to pursue its foreign policy as long as it does not clash with its strategic interests.
Article 2 of the treaty asks Bhutan to be 'guided by the advice of government of India in regard to its external relations.' This section is likely to be rephrased to reaffirm Bhutan's sovereignty in the arena of international affairs.
Article 6 of the treaty which permits Bhutan to import 'arms, ammunition, machines, warlike material or stores' for its 'strength' but with India's 'assistance and approval' is also set for revision, informed sources told IANS.
In practical terms, it would mean India relaxing the provision for its prior approval for Bhutan buying non-lethal military stores and equipment.
Bhutan, the idyllic Himalayan nation that prefers to measure its national wealth in terms of gross national happiness, is readying to embrace democracy as it holds multi-party elections next year.