Khur­shid to ap­point en­voy to Thimpu

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

NEW DELHI: With Bei­jing press­ing hard to es­tab­lish full-fledged diplo­matic ties with Bhutan, newly ap­pointed ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sal­man Khur­shid’s pri­or­ity would be to send an Am­bas­sador to Thimpu as present en­voy Pa­van Varma has put in his pa­pers to try his luck in the po­lit­i­cal arena. Pa­van Varma, a 1976 batch IFS of­fi­cer, is slated to demit of­fice on De­cem­ber 31, 2012.

Gov­ern­ment sources said while In­dian am­bas­sador to Syria VP Haran is the front-run­ner to take over the job in Thimpu, the name will be fi­nalised in con­sul­ta­tion with Khur­shid on a pri­or­ity ba­sis, as New Delhi does not want a diplo­matic vac­uum in the fledg­ling Bhutanese democ­racy.

Haran has ear­lier served with dis­tinc­tion as deputy chief of In­dian mis­sion in Kath­mandu dur­ing the last days of King Gya­nen­dra and has a clear pic­ture on Bhutan. The new min­is­ter will also have to take a call on ap­point­ment of en­voys to Per­ma­nent Mis­sion of In­dia to UN in New York, France and Myan­mar as Hardeep Puri, Rakesh Sood and V S She­shadri are re­spec­tively su­per­an­nu­at­ing in Fe­bru­ary next year.

How­ever, New Delhi is con­cerned about send­ing a com­pe­tent en­voy to Thimpu af­ter Chi­nese Prime Min­is­ter Wen Ji­abao met Bhutan Premier Jigme Y Thin­ley for the first time on the side­lines of the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Sum­mit at Rio last June with an aim to pro­mote bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. The meet­ing was fol­lowed by visit of Chi­nese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter for bound­ary talks with the Bhutanese gov­ern­ment. While the Bhutanese gov­ern­ment had in­formed New Delhi about meet­ing with Premier Wen in June, the In­dian diplo­matic and in­tel­li­gence es­tab­lish­ment was caught un­awares and were sub­se­quently pulled up at the high­est lev­els for this slip-up.

With an eye to­wards Chi­nese moves, In­dia has al­ready in­jected some R10,000 crore into Bhutan’s 10th five year plan and is build­ing mul­ti­ple eco­nomic lever­ages into ex­ist­ing close bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.

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