Prachanda on two-day India visit from Sep 15

September 4th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal ‘Prachanda’ will arrive in India for a two-day visit on Sep 15, the first top-level contact between the two countries since Nepal became a republic and elected a Maoist to head the government. Prachanda will visit India a week before he heads to New York to attend the meeting of the UN General Assembly, official sources here told IANS.

The dates were finalised during Nepal’s Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav’s visit to New Delhi last week.

The two countries, bound by centuries of economic, cultural and fraternal contacts, will discuss a host of bilateral and regional issues, including expansion of trade and energy ties.

The proposed revision of the 1950 India-Nepal Friendship Treaty will figure high on the agenda when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Prachanda, a former rebel leader who waged a decade-long insurgency before he joined the democratic process after the end of the 258-year monarchy in Nepal early this year.

Nepal is insisting on revising the friendship treaty, which it has characterised as “unequal”, to bring it in tune with new realities in both countries. India is open to the idea of revising the 58-year-old treaty.

The issue of flood management will be discussed between the two sides. India is likely to announce a hefty assistance for relief and rehabilitation of flood victims in Nepal.

Last week, Nepal’s foreign minister had blamed India for the lack of timely repair of embankments that triggered floods, but had struck a conciliatory note saying a blame game would not solve anything.

Prachanda’s visit is also aimed at quelling anxieties among some sections in India who made much of his recent visit to China and interpreted it as a sign of Nepal’s pro-China tilt under the new dispensation.

Prachanda went to Beijing last month to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics. This was seen by some sections in India as a break from the tradition of Nepali prime ministers visiting India as their first port of call after being elected to the post.

During his visit to India last week, Yadav had underlined the new regime’s policy of maintaining equidistance in its relations with India and China. He, however, assured New Delhi that it need not worry as no power on earth could upset friendly relations between India and Nepal.

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