PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
Modi Meets Koirala, Discusses Ways to Boost Bilateral Ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala during which the two sides inked three agreements, including one on the 5,600 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project that will pave the way to start the stalled project.

Modi, who arrived here this morning on his maiden official visit to Nepal, met Koirala at Singha Durbar Secretariat.

The two leaders discussed various issues including Nepal's peace process and constitution-drafting process as well as economic issues.

They also discussed various facets of mutual relations and issues of common interest.

Nepal and India has also signed three separate Memorandum of Understandings during the bilateral talks held between the delegations led Modi and Koirala.

Under the first agreement, India would provide Rs 65 million to procure and distribute iodised salt in the rural areas of Nepal. This would be the extension of the ongoing goiter control project being implemented under India's grant.

The two governments also signed MOU regarding the amendment of Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project on the Mahakali river.

Under the agreement, the two countries have agreed to move forward works relating to Pancheshwar Development Authority by declaring Pancheshwar authority regulation.

The project falls under the integrated treaty on Mahakali River, bordering both Nepal and India, which was signed in 1996. It could not be developed earlier as the two countries could not decide on the terms of reference.

"It was decided long ago. The cost has gone up by a huge margin over the years but now both the countries have established respective authorities," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as he addressed the Constituent Assembly. He expressed hope that work will start within a year on the 5,600 MW project.

"The project would add five times more electricity than Nepal produces today. Not a small achievement. It will take development to newer heights," he said.

"India will play a pro-active role towards that and will put in its best efforts," Modi assured.

The third agreement paves the way for cooperation between two national broadcasting television channels -- Nepal Television and Doordarshan.

At the conclusion of the bilateral talks, both Prime ministers singed the commemorative cover to be published by the Nepal Philatelic Bureau to mark the historic high-profile Indian visit to Nepal.

Both the leaders have accorded priority to work jointly on energy and infrastructure development, Foreign Minister Mahendra Pandey after the talks.

After the meeting, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that the two sides have agreed to do necessary works through appropriate commission to resolve the border issues between the two countries.

The two sides have also agreed to take decision regarding Nepal India Power Trading Agreement within the next 45 days.

They have also agreed to conclude the Power Development Agreement for Upper Karnali project being developed by GMR and Trishuli III being developed by Sutlej Jalavidyut within the next 45 days, Mahat said after the meeting.

Earlier, Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to pay a bilateral visit to Nepal in 17 years, was given a rousing welcome with his counterpart receiving him at the Tribhuvan International Airport, deviating from protocol for the purpose.

Deputy Prime Ministers Bam Dev Gautam and Prakash Man Singh were also present at the airport.

Nepalese Foreign Minister Mahendra Pandey paid a courtesy call on Modi and briefly discussed some bilateral issues, including hydro-power, trade, energy and security.

The meeting took place at a five star hotel an hour after Modi arrived here on a two-day trip, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to pay a bilateral visit to Nepal in 17 years.

"The talks were held in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere," Pandey told PTI after the meeting.

Modi, in his pre-departure statement summing up the sentiment attached to the two-day trip, had said, "I am excited about my visit and pleased that I am able to go there within weeks of assuming office as Prime Minister."

Modi had said that he looks forward to working with the Nepalese leadership to forge a "new relationship" by identifying steps to strengthen bilateral cooperation in key sectors, including trade and investment, hydropower, agriculture and agro-processing, environment, tourism, education, culture and sports.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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