HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

PM Modi begins two-day Nepal visit on Sunday

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 02, 2014
First Published: 00:36 IST(2/8/2014) | Last Updated: 02:05 IST(2/8/2014)

Continuing with its neighbours-first foreign policy approach, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Nepal on Sunday for a two-day visit with a strong political message of friendship.

A bilateral visit of Indian Prime Minister to Nepal is taking place after 17 years though there were 15 high level visits of both presidents and prime ministers from that country to India.

Modi will have talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala and have the honour of addressing Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. The Prime Minister will also visit the Pashupatinath Temple where he is expected to participate in a special puja.

During the trip, India is expected to announce economic assistance and the two sides are likely to sign pacts in sectors like power and culture, sources said but refused to divulge details.

Modi’s visit comes just a week after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had travelled there.  This shows the “intention and priority that our Prime Minister places on the neighbourhood,” external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.

Koirala had attended the swearing-in ceremony of Modi as Prime Minister at the latter’s invitation on May 26. India is making efforts to boost ties in all aspects, including defence, security, training exercises and connectivity.

Cooperation in management of common rivers is a key element of India-Nepal ties. India, which at times, faces floods because of the rivers originating in Nepal, has been training Nepalese officials to deal with the problem. It has given Rs. 200 crore to Nepal for the purpose.

Abhay Thakur, joint secretary (north) in the MEA, said there is a need for real-time exchange of flood data.

“We are ready to extend assistance in this regard,” he said, adding India is already providing assistance on improving embankments of rivers.

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