A new chapter opened in Indo-Nepal relations: Bhattarai

October 22nd, 2011 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) A day after India unveiled a $250 million line of credit for Kathmandu and signed a crucial investment pact, Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai Saturday said his talks here have “opened a new chapter” in bilateral ties and succeeded in “building trust” between the two neighbours.

Allaying India’s concerns, Bhattarai also said that a mechanism will be developed to check the flow of fake currency notes and assured that the Nepali territory will not be allowed for anti-India activities.

Nepal has also proposed the formation of an Eminent Persons Group to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including a review of past treaties. A non-paper has been given to New Delhi to take the proposal forward.

“My visit was a successful one. Whatever misunderstandings were there have been dispelled,” Bhattarai told reporters here.

“A new chapter has been opened up in Indo-Nepal relationship,” he said, signalling a visible warming of ties between New Delhi and the Maoist-led dispensation in Kathmandu.

The talks between Bhattarai and Manmohan Singh Friday has been widely seen as signalling a back-to-business approach between New Delhi and Kathmandu. Earlier, New Delhi has been wary of the Maoist leadership, but has been building bridges in a bid to stabilize the situation in the Himalayan country.

Bhattarai Saturday met Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony and discussed with them issues related to expanding security cooperation.

“There have been suspicions between Maoists and the Indian establishment in the past. Even though I was coming as PM, it is natural that Delhi saw it as a Maoist PM coming,” he said. “This (visit) has helped create trust. The positive reaction from civil society is important for bilateral relations. Everything is trust and confidence,” he stressed.

The ongoing political transition in Nepal figured prominently in the talks.

“The Indian PM’s first concern was the completion of the peace process and constitution, since without that, political stability in Nepal would be elusive. I apprised him of recent positive developments in the peace process, and assured him we are close to completing it,” Bhattarai said.

“Nepal is passing through a crucial phase in its quest for peace, stability and multi-party democracy. There should be no foreign interference in this process. The people of Nepal must take their decisions themselves,” Manmohan Singh said at a banquet in honour of his Nepalese counterpart Friday night.

“We have full confidence in the wisdom and resilience of the people of Nepal to forge consensus through dialogue and understanding. We are with the people of Nepal in this journey and are ready to provide whatever assistance possible as per the wishes of the people of Nepal,” Manmohan Singh said.

With an eye on the prickly domestic constituency back home, Bhattarai said the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) agreement the two countries inked Friday would help spur trade, investment and technology flows to Kathmandu.

The pact entails granting compensation to Indian investors whose assets suffer losses owing to war, armed conflict or a state of national emergency. It was a key concession on the part of Kathmandu as it was apprehensive that this would burden it with huge liabilities in the case of mishaps.

“BIPPA is in the national interest. All genuine concerns of India will be addressed,” he said.

“I have taken a risk, but if you don’t take risks, the country cannot develop. We are at the stage of capitalist development,” he said. “If we want double-digit growth, wish to raise the per capita income of citizens to $3,000 in ten years, and develop, this is the only route. It will create conducive environment for investment.”

Bhattarai, who studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University, goes to Hardwar and Dehardun before heading back to Kathmandu Sunday.

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