Prachanda likely to visit India Sep 15

September 4th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 4 (IANS) Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” will make his maiden political visit, since assuming office last month, to southern neighbour India, most likely Sep 15.India’s ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood Thursday met the prime minister to propose a five-day visit.

Prachanda’s aide Shakti Bahadur Basnet told IANS that the date and the schedule would be finalised Friday.

However, private radio station Kantipur quoted Nepal’s ambassador to India D.M. Singh as saying that Sep 15 has been decided as the kickoff date for the historic visit.

Last month, the Maoist supremo triggered a raging controversy in both India and Nepal when he broke the tradition of Nepal’s prime minister’s starting their visits abroad with India.

Prachanda instead went to China, where he met President Hu Jintao and Prime minister Wen Jiabao.

The erupting controversy and reported displeasure of the Indian leaders at the hasty visit less than a week after taking oath of office, however, made him try to downplay the decision, saying that it was an informal visit to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

In a remarkable coincidence, Chinese ambassador to Nepal Zheng Xianglin also met Prachanda Thursday.

However, neither side disclosed the subject of the meeting.

Besides meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prachanda will meet Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

However, it remains to be seen if the revolutionary leader, who visited Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, would visit Gandhiji’s memorial in India.

Prachanda is expected to discuss the 1954 Kosi water-sharing treaty, which created bad blood between the two neighbours yet again this monsoon with the river flooding Nepal’s Sunsari district and India’s Bihar.

He will also discuss Indian assistance, investment and possibly other controversial treaties, like the Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 which the Maoists want to be reviewed.

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