Sushma visit: India, Nepal to strengthen ties

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj wrapped up her visit to Nepal on Friday, reaffirming India’s support to the development of the Himalayan republic where a new government is being formed after the recent parliamentary and provincial elections.

During her two-day stay here, she interacted with leaders of major political parties. The discussions centered on deepening bilateral cooperation, including enhancing people-to-people contacts.

The talks were held in a “cordial atmosphere” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal. “Both sides expressed satisfaction over the current state of bilateral relations and discussed matters of mutual interests.”

“She conveyed that the Indian government is willing to work with the government of Nepal to further strengthen age-old bilateral ties and continue its co-operation for socio-economic development of Nepal,” said the ministry in a release.

At a meeting with outgoing prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the two leaders discussed “enhancing our bilateral cooperation to take our age-old and historical partnership forward,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

During her talks with Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, she discussed the “situation emerging after the conclusion of the elections and the preparation for formation of new government.”

“We want political stability and development for which we need cooperation from the neighbours. Swaraj assured that India will extend full cooperation to Nepal in her efforts towards attaining political stability and development,” said Prachanda, whose party is part of the Left Alliance that emerged victorious in the recent elections.
On Thursday, the Indian government raised its financial grant to Nepal by 74 per cent for the next fiscal to support the country’s development. Presenting federal budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announed a grant of INR 6.6 billion (Rs10.6 billion) to Nepal in 2018-19.

Prachanda said the talks were “positive and constructive” and she congratulated the Left Alliance for gaining victory in the elections.

Swaraj’s visit is first diplomatic engagement with Nepal since the CPN-UML and CPN (MC) catapulted to power and is being seen as an effort to reset ties with the Nepali leadership.
In her first engagement on Thursday, Swaraj met Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) Chairman K P Sharma Oli, who is most likely to lead the new government, and the two had “wide ranging discussions on ways to take the special relationship forward”.

In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry in a statement said that Swaraj “conveyed to all political leaders of Nepal that the Government of India is looking forward to working with the democratically elected Government to take forward bilateral ties to newer heights for mutual benefit, and to support the Government of Nepal, as per its priorities, in its endeavours for rapid economic growth and development.”

Swaraj also paid a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and exchanged views on advancing “our multidimensional relationship”, said the MEA spokesperson.
Diplomatic sources earlier had said Swaraj was carrying a “special message” from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the leaders of the Left alliance.
Modi last month had spoken to Oli wherein both the leaders had invited each other for a visit.

Swaraj, who had arrived on Thursday in Kathmandu on what the government called a “goodwill” visit, left for home Friday afternoon.

 

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