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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 19:09 GMT
Bhutan king makes foreign debut
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (left) meets Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil
The king (left) is spending five days in India
The Oxford-educated king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan made his debut on the world stage on Wednesday with an official visit to India.

Twenty-six-year-old Jigme Kesar Namgyel came to the throne after his father abdicated in December.

The new king will sign a revised treaty of friendship with India on Thursday, giving his country more freedom in foreign policy and military purchases.

In 2008, Bhutan becomes a parliamentary democracy with a new constitution.

Correspondents say that the new king's meetings with Indian National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Home Minister Shivraj Patil are a sign of the close security ties between India and Bhutan.

'Continued growth'

In his first public statement in December after he took over from his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the new monarch pledged to continue his father's reforms and hold elections next year.

Correspondents say the monarch's five-day visit to India could see the nation of 700,000 people emerge out of Delhi's shadow after the signing of a new friendship pact with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday.

"The treaty not only reflects the contemporary nature of the relationship between the two countries but also provides the foundation for the continued growth of this excellent relationship in the 21st Century," the Bhutanese foreign ministry said.

The beautiful and mountainous country of thick forests and high mountains only allowed television in 1999 and the Internet the following year.

Bhutanese king steps down early
15 Dec 06 |  South Asia
Bhutan announces election details
19 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Bhutan king announces abdication
18 Dec 05 |  South Asia
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31 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Exiles attack Bhutan constitution
04 Apr 05 |  South Asia
Country profile: Bhutan
27 Oct 05 |  Country profiles

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