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India- Bhutan finalised location for cross-border rail link

New Delhi, Nov 06 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo)

India and Bhutan agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in multiple areas, with a special focus on cross-border connectivity, and also agreed on the final location survey of the first cross-border rail link between the two countries.

This comes after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk on Monday.

"Pleasure to welcome His Majesty the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk to India. We had very warm and positive discussions on various facets of the unique and exemplary India-Bhutan relationship. Deeply value His Majesty's vision for the development and well-being of the friendly people of Bhutan," PM Modi posted on X (formerly Twitter).

According to the joint statement of India and Bhutan, the two sides agreed to further expand bilateral cooperation on trade, technology, cross-border connectivity, mutual investments, education and people-to-people connections, following was agreed upon:

The two sides agreed to undertake the Final Location Survey (FLS), in consultation with the Bhutanese side, of the proposed cross-border rail link connecting Kokrajhar in Assam to Gelephu in Bhutan through the support of Indian government.

New Delhi, Nov 06 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo)

The two sides noted successful completion of the Preliminary Engineering-cum-Traffic (PET) survey of the rail-link by Indian Railways. The two sides also agreed to consider establishing rail-link between Banarhat (West Bengal) and Samtse (Bhutan), the statement added.

India and Bhutan also agreed to designate Darranga (Assam) and Samdrup Jongkhar (Bhutan) as immigration check post between Bhutan and India to facilitate the entry and exit of third country nationals by land route for enhancing connectivity, and promoting tourism.

The joint statement stated that the Indian government will positively consider Bhutan's request for 'concessional financing' in the area of skill development and capacity building under the GyalSung Project.

The Haldibari (West Bengal) - Chilahati (Bangladesh) rail route will also be designated as an additional trade route for Bhutan's trade with Bangladesh, the statement added.

The Indian government will provide bridge financing for the period between 12th and 13th Five Year Plans of Bhutan for projects and schemes assisted by Indian government.

The two countries agreed to strengthen trade infrastructure, including by suitable upgradation of the existing Land Customs station at Dadgiri (Assam) to Integrated Check Post through GOI support along with development of facilities on the Bhutanese side at Gelephu (Bhutan), the joint statement read.

India and Bhutan will also work to strengthen collaborative framework in environmental conservation, wildlife preservation, forestry under the framework MoU for developing cooperation in the areas of environment, underscoring shared commitment to safeguarding the ecological diversity of the region.

According to the joint statement, additional MBBS seats will be allocated for Bhutanese students in medical colleges in Assam as an endeavour to ensure access to quality medical education and training to Bhutanese nationals.

India and Bhutan also agreed to double the outlay under Ambassador's scholarship for Bhutanese students pursuing higher education in India

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