Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday embarked on a visit to Nepal to forge a new relationship with it and start a "new chapter" in bilateral ties that will serve as a model and catalyst for regional partnership.
In this photograph taken on May 27, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala during a meeting in New Delhi. (AFP Photo)
During his two-day visit, Modi will be holding talks with his counterpart Sushil Koirala and meet other political leaders.
He will also have the rare honour of addressing Nepal's Constituent Assembly.
Ahead of his visit, Modi had said that he looks forward to working with the Nepalese leadership to forge a "new relationship" by identifying steps to strengthen bilateral cooperation in key sectors, including trade and investment, hydropower, agriculture and agro-processing, environment, tourism, education, culture and sports.
"I am excited about my visit and pleased that I am able to go there within weeks of assuming office as Prime Minister," he had said in a pre-departure statement on Saturday.
"I hope my visit will open a new chapter in India-Nepal relations, characterised by more frequent political engagement and closer cooperation across the full spectrum of our extraordinarily broad-based relations, which will serve as a model and catalyst for South Asian partnership for prosperity," Modi had said.
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Describing Nepal as a close friend and neighbour, he had said, "We have had the privilege of being a leading partner in Nepal's socio-economic development. We are committed to continuing our support to Nepal in its development efforts."
Modi's Nepal visit will also unite a youth with his family.
26-year-old Jeet Bahadur, who came in contact with Modi in Ahmedabad over a decade back and was since looked after by him, is travelling with the Prime Minister to Kathmandu to be personally handed over to his mother and elder brother.
"On a personal note, my Nepal visit is very special... Some personal emotions are also attached to this visit.," Modi had said.
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister had said, "Years back, I met a child Jeet Bahadur in a helpless condition. He knew nothing, where to go, what to do. He did not know anybody, nor did he understand the language."
"Guided by God, I started thinking about him. Gradually, he developed interest in studies and playing. He also learned Gujarati language," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said sometime back, he was able to locate Bahadur's parents. "This was possible because he (Bahadur) has six fingers in his foot."
"Thankfully, we were able to locate his parents. I am glad that the parents would be reunited with their son," he said.
During the visit, the two countries are expected to sign agreements in sectors like power. India may also announce economic aid for that country.
The Prime Minister had said that his visit highlights the high priority that his government attaches to relations with Nepal and India's determination to take our relationship to an entirely new level.
Modi had said that he will have the opportunity to hold detailed discussions with the Nepalese leadership on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
Read: Nepal PM sees an opportunity in Modi's visit, stresses trust building
He had said that he looked forward to working with the leadership of Nepal "to forge a new relationship for the new century between our two rapidly transforming countries."
Referring to the recent meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission after a long gap of 23 years, the Prime Minister said it reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and cooperation with a focus on economic relations, trade and connectivity.
"Our ongoing major projects for development of border infrastructure will usher in economic prosperity to people living on both sides of the border and also enhance connectivity," Modi had said.
During the visit, the two sides will explore ways to further strengthen development cooperation.
Recalling with delight that Koirala had graced his swearing-in ceremony on May 26, Modi had said it demonstrated the solidarity of the people of Nepal with India and the shared commitment to democracy.
The Prime Minister had also expressed gratitude to the people and the elected representatives of Nepal for giving him the rare honour of addressing the Parliament of Nepal.
"For me, another significance of this visit is that I will have the opportunity of paying obeisance at Pashupatinath Temple on 'sawan ki somwar'," Modi had said.
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