Peak relations: Israel and mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan tie the knot

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Peak relations: Israel and mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan tie the knot

Two countries agree to establish formal relations and agree mutual recognition in yet another diplomatic coup for Jerusalem.

The mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas has become the latest country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Bordering Tibet, Bhutan has a mostly Buddhist population of around 800,000 and has, in the past, been a popular destination for Israelis travelling after their military service, before its new £200-a-day tourist tax began revising itineraries.

Relations were officially established in a ceremony late last week in New Delhi at the residence of the Israeli Ambassador to India, Ron Malka, who was joined by his Bhutanese counterpart, Major General Vetsop Namgyel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said: “The circle of recognition of Israel is widening. The establishment of relations with Bhutan will constitute a new stage in the deepening of Israel’s relations in Asia.”

Politically, Bhutan pursues a policy of non-alignment, in part due to its precarious geography, sandwiched between two testy neighbours – China and India.

On Twitter, Malka called it an “historic day”, adding: “This agreement will open up many more opportunities for cooperation for the benefit of both our peoples.”

Recognition by Bhutan is the latest Israeli diplomatic coup, coming just days after Morocco said it was establishing relations with Jerusalem. Bahrain, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates have all likewise agreed since the summer.

Israel and Bhutan have enjoyed cordial relations for decades and a joint statement on the deal highlighted planned technological, economic, and agricultural development.

“Ties between the peoples through cultural exchanges and tourism would also be further enhanced”, it added.

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