India will support Nepal in its pursuit of peace, stability and development as the two sides focus on implementing bilateral development and connectivity projects, President Pranab Mukherjee said at the conclusion of his state visit on Friday.
Mukherjee described his three-day trip as a “mission of friendship” that reflected the priority India attaches to strengthening its “unique relationship” with Nepal.
In a statement issued as he wrapped up the first visit by an Indian president in 18 years, Mukherjee – who received rousing welcomes in Kathmandu, Janakpur and Pokhara – said: “Our destinies are inter-linked and there is recognition on both sides of the need to advance common prosperity.”
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, who broke protocol to receive Mukherjee on his arrival, also saw him off at the Tribhuvan international airport, reflecting the importance attached to the visit.
The trip also signalled a further improvement in ties that were hit by a five-month economic blockade of border trade points with India during a protest against Nepal’s new Constitution.
During his meetings with Bhandari, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” and leaders of political parties, Mukherjee said India remains committed to enhancing its partnership with Nepal in all areas of priority.
“As two sovereign nations, we wish to take forward our relationship on the basis of trust, goodwill and mutual benefit. I conveyed the good wishes of the people and government of India to the friendly people of Nepal in their national efforts to achieve peace, stability and development within a federal democratic polity,” he said in the statement.
“The warmth and affection with which I was received by the people and government of Nepal was truly overwhelming,” said Mukherjee, who was awarded an honorary DLitt degree by Kathmandu University and feted at civic receptions in Kathmandu and Janakpur, which handed over the keys of the city to him.
While performing a special puja at the Pashupati Nath temple, Mukherjee announced that India will undertake two development projects to repair and renovate the ‘ghats’ near the famous shrine on the banks of the Bagmati river.
After receiving the honorary doctorate at Kathmandu University, he said that the Indian Institutes of Technology will open their entrance examinations to Nepali students so that they can pursue graduate and postgraduate courses on a regular basis from 2017.
Additionally, 23 postgraduate scholarships have been offered for Nepali engineers and experts for courses in hydropower and water resources management at the IIT-Roorkee this year, he said.
At Janakpur, Mukherjee announced India will build two ‘dharmashalas’ along the Parikrama Path to be used by pilgrims from both countries.
Mukherjee also visited Pokhara, where he interacted with former Gurkha soldiers of the Indian Army and their families.
“I am convinced that my visit has provided new dynamism to our common cooperative endeavors,” he said. “I am confident that building on shared strength of geography, history and culture, India-Nepal relations are poised to ascend to new heights in the coming years...”