Agence France Presse

New Delhi, January 23:

Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who was due to begin a state visit to India today, has delayed his arrival by a day due to heavy snowfall in the Himalayan kingdom, a foreign ministry official said.

“The king will now arrive tomorrow,” the official said.

An agreement to build Bhutan’s first railway is likely to be signed during the high-profile five-day visit, the government and a newspaper report said today.

The king, who was in India last November for a six-day visit, will also be the chief guest at a function on January 26 to mark India’s Republic Day.

The king will hold talks with President Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, a government statement said.

The Indian Express newspaper said the two sides may agree to build the first railway in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom across the south of the country.

The proposed network would connect Bhutan’s border towns with three railway points in Assam and two in West Bengal, the report said. The move is aimed at boosting bilateral trade and economic development of the Mahayana Buddhist nation of 734,000 people nestled between India and China.

Ties between Bhutan and India have warmed in recent months following the country’s 2003 military operation to evict northeast Indian separatist groups.