Oli briefs Modi on developments after Nepal constitution’s adoption

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on Saturday briefed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the developments in Nepal after the adoption of a new constitution last year as the two sides signed nine agreements ranging from power to transport.

Briefing the media here following delegation-level talks and the exchange of agreements, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the two prime ministers reviewed the entire gamut of the close, broad and deep relationship between the two countries.

The six-day visit of Oli, who arrived here on Friday, is the first state visit by a prime minister from the Himalayan nation since 2011 when Baburam Bhattarai visited India.

The visit assumes significance as ties between the two South Asian neighbours in the last few months soured after the adoption of a new constitution in the Himalayan nation in September last year sparked violent protests in the country’s southern plains.

“They (Modi and Oli) discussed political, economic, socio-cultural ties between us and both the inter-governmental ties as well as the people-to-people relationship,” Jaishankar said.

The two leaders discussed promotion of sub-regional cooperation, including trade, connectivity, water and power, and “noted with satisfaction the excellent cooperation on security-related matters”.

“The prime minister of Nepal briefed our prime minister on developments in Nepal after the adoption of a new constitution,” Jaishankar said.

“Our prime minister appreciated the progress made towards the consolidation of constitutional democracy in Nepal, acknowledging the two amendments which were passed by the Nepalese parliament as positive steps,” he said, adding that Modi expressed the hope that all political parties in Nepal would similarly come together and successfully resolve the remaining constitutional issues.

Nearly 60 people lost their lives in violent protests after the adoption of the new constitution last year with agitating Madhesi political parties and ethnic groups of the Nepal Terai demanding amendments in the statute that they deem discriminatory and ignoring their rights.

Crucial entry points from India to Nepal were blocked by the agitators leading to shortage of essential supplies and medicines in the northern neighbour.

Nepal blamed the Indian establishment for instigating the trouble, a charge New Delhi has firmly and constantly denied.

On January 23, the Nepal parliament approved the first ever amendment to the country’s new constitution to address the agitating Madhesis’ demands for proportionate representation and allocation of seats in parliament on the basis of population.

In Thursday’s talks, Oli said of the constitutional issues that were being discussed and debated, some of them have been addressed and some still being addressed, Jaishankar said.

Oli also appreciated India’s aid after the devastating earthquake in April 2015 and said his visit showed the importance Nepal attached to good neighbourly relations with India.

“On his part, Prime Minister Oli mentioned that the primary purpose of his coming to India at this moment was to clear some of the misunderstandings that were there in the relationship and he felt that he has been successful in doing so,” Jaishankar said.

According to the foreign secretary, Modi said that as a well-wishing neighbour, India really hoped that Nepal would reach new heights in its stability, in its inclusiveness, in fairness and in prosperity.

Modi and Oli also discussed housing development and tourism for Nepal’s economic development.

Oli asked Modi to inspire Indian investors to go to Nepal, saying he himself would talk to Indian corporates and assure them of stability in his country.

Among the nine agreements signed on Thursday between two sides included those on utilisation of Indian grant of $250 million for post-earthquake reconstruction, improving of road infrasxtructure in Nepal’s Terai area, cultural cooperation, transit between Nepal and Bagladesh through Kakarbitta-Banglabandh corridor, use of Vishakapatnam port by Nepal, and inauguration of the Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar power transmission line.

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