Ahead of Nepal PM’s visit, Menon goes to Kathmandu Saturday

June 18th, 2009 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon leaves for Kathmandu Saturday amid continuing political instability in the Himalayan state for a two-day trip that is expected to set the stage for Nepal’s new Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s visit to India.
Menon will meet Nepal and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and discuss a host of issues, including the floundering peace process and progress in drafting of the new constitution.

Bilateral issues will also figure prominently in the discussions.

Menon’s discussions with Nepali leaders are expected to set the stage for new Nepali prime minister’s first visit to India since he assumed office last month.

Nepal is expected to come to New Delhi later this month, or early next month, official sources said. Dates are expected to be finalised soon, the sources said.

Menon will also meet leaders of other political parties, including octogenarian Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala.

Menon’s visit takes place at a time when clashing ambitions have stalled the full expansion of the new cabinet.

Even three weeks after assuming office, Nepal could only induct 10 new ministers Tuesday. The fresh round of cabinet expansion has, however, not ended the protracted squabble with allies over power-sharing with the parties from the Terai not sending any new faces to the cabinet

It is against this backdrop that Menon will underscore India’s concerns over the festering political instability that has jeopardised the peace process and ignited anxieties over the process of forging of the new constitution, the sources said.

In his talks with leaders of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist-led coalition, Menon is expected to convey the need for creating a propitious process for taking the peace process forward.

This is Menon’s second visit to Nepal in four months.

Ahead of Menon’s visit, K.P. Sharma Oli, senior CPN-UML leader and a former deputy prime minister, met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He updated them on recent political developments in Nepal and shared his perception about the ongoing efforts by the Madhav Nepal government to resolve bitter infighting among political allies over cabinet posts.

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