India visit opened new chapter in bilateral ties: Prachanda

September 18th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghKathmandu, Sept 18 (IANS) Returning home after his first official visit to India, a jubilant Nepal prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” Thursday described his trip as going beyond a mere goodwill visit and opening a new chapter in Indo-Nepal relations.“My visit has broken away from traditional visits and the traditional relation with India,” the Himalayan republic’s first Maoist prime minister said upon his arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport Thursday.

“It has begun a new chapter in Indo-Nepal ties that is based on the rational consideration of the welfare of the two countries and their peoples.”

Prachanda, who met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi during his much-hyped first “political visit” since assuming office, said an agreement had been made to review, upgrade and adjust the controversial Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 as well as other bilateral treaties and a tentative time frame drawn for the upgradation.

Within a month, new committees would be formed to start negotiation on the pacts, the 54-year-old former revolutionary told journalists at the airport.

Describing his visit as “successful” and “just as the first visit by the elected prime minister of a democratic federal republic should be”, Prachanda scoffed at fears that his party was supporting the armed Maoist organisations in India.

“I did not meet the leaders of any Indian Maoist party during my visit,” he said. “I did not go to India to establish Maoism. I went there as the elected PM of a democratic federal republic carrying legitimate national interests at heart as advised by a national coalition government.”

Asked what he had discussed with the Indian prime minister, Prachanda said the talks centred around creating an environment for mutual trust, laying the foundation for progress and addressing issues of mutual concern and interest.

As India had assisted with the historic election in April and the signing of the peace pact that ended the insurgency, Prachanda said he had urged Manmohan Singh to show the same unstinted support for taking the peace process to its logical conclusion, drafting a new constitution and ushering in an economic transformation.

Prachanda, who had said that spent eight of the 10 years of the ‘People’s War’ launched by his party in India, told the media he had seen a “new excitement” in India’s people, intellectuals and the business community after the end of the Maoist insurgency and the swearing in of a new government.

There was also an interest in increasing Indian investment in Nepal, he said.

All the political parties in India he had met during the five-day visit — including L K Advani, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that has remained critical of the Maoists — had shown a desire for Nepal to have peace, stability and economic development, Prachanda said.

Prachanda, who had triggered a controversy last month when he chose to visit China within a week of being sworn in, said there should not be any comparison between the two giant neighbours, India and China.

“Nepal wants to deepen ties with China but there can be no comparison between the trade Nepal has with India with that it has with China.

“Nor can there be any comparison between the boundary issues with India, with whom Nepal has an open border and the boundary with China (which is demarcated by the high Himalayan mountains).

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