Thursday 27 October 2016

Modi Concludes Historic Visit to Nepal

Ajay Kaul/Kathmandu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today wound up his "historic" visit to Nepal with a slew of sops focusing on the 4 Cs - cooperation, connectivity, culture and constitution - to enhance bilateral ties.

Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Nepal in 17 years, stressed the importance of the constitution writing to the Nepalese leadership including President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

"You should not think about the party but the country. Nepal needs a constitution at the earliest," Minister of external Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin quoted Modi as telling them.

During the visit, Modi assured Nepal that India did not want to interfere in its internal affairs.

Seeking to allay fears here of Indian interference in Nepal's affairs, the Prime Minister said India has no intent to "dictate" anything to Nepal which should choose its own course in its endeavour to build a stable and prosperous democratic republic.

"Nepal is a truly sovereign nation. We have always believed that it is not our job to interfere in what you do but to support you in the path you decide to take," he said while addressing the Constituent Assembly yesterday.

The focus of Prime Minister Modi's visit to Nepal was on 4 Cs- cooperation, connectivity, culture, constitution, Akbaruddin said.

On cooperation, the spokesman said, India had yesterday announced USD 1 billion line of credit (LoC) to Nepal. He mentioned that the prime minister himself has said the USD 1 billion is in addition to any other existing LoC.

The Pancheswar Development Authority will be set up and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be finalised within a year. The two sides also agreed to conclude a Power Trade Agreement (PTA) - a framework pact for the commerce and power sector within 45 days.

The two Prime Ministers directed the concerned authorities to conclude negotiations within 45 days on the Project Development Agreement (PDA) between the Investment Board of Nepal and GMR Group of India for the development of Upper Karnali hydropower project, he said.

The two prime ministers also directed the concerned authorities to conclude negotiations on the agreement on trade in power sector within 45 days.

India will assist in construction of a multi lane motorable bridge on Mahakali river to facilitate shorter and easier route between western Nepal and Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and New Delhi, the spokesman said.

The construction of the first phase of the link road between Nepal and Terai region of India, will be completed expeditiously. Delay in this project was one of the concerns articulated by Nepalese side including opposition parties, he said.

Akbaruddin said along with the first phase of this project India also agreed to commence work on second phase.

He said the prime minister donated 2,500 kgs of sandalwood to Pashupatinath temple. India also promised to provide assistance for restoration and renovation of the temple. For this 25 crores will be provided. ASI will begin work soon.

India also offered assistance for development of Janakpur, Baraha Chhetra and Lumbini, including linking Lumbini with the Buddhist circuit of India, based on specific proposals from government of Nepal, he said.

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