Nepal is set to accord a rousing welcome to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee when he arrives for a state visit beginning on November 2, which has been declared a public holiday.
The government decided to declare a public holiday to give a fitting welcome to the highest dignitary from the neighbouring country, Nepal government spokesperson Ram Karki said after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Mukherjee is making a three-day state visit at a time when Nepal-India ties are on an upward trajectory after a brief lull caused by a five-month protest at key border trade points. The visit is also important because it is the first by an Indian president since 1997. The two sides agreed on an exchange of high-level visits after several meetings held in New Delhi and Kathmandu.
Foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat told reporters that Mukherjee’s visit is expected to further deepen relations. The Indian side is also expected to announce some assistance for Nepal during the visit, sources said.
Citing security reasons, the government has asked residents of Kathmandu not to ply their vehicles on the streets of Kathmandu on Wednesday and Thursday unless absolutely necessary. More than 400 Indian commandos will be deployed to protect Mukherjee along with personnel from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Intelligence Department.
Mukherjee will hold a meeting with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari soon after his arrival in Kathmandu and she will host a state banquet in his honour in the evening.
The next day, Mukherjee will visit Pashupati Nath temple and will attend a civic reception organised by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. He will be honoured for his contributions to strengthening bilateral relations and people-to-people ties, according to the foreign ministry.
Leaders of major political parties will also call on Mukherjee and he will attend the Kathmandu University’s convocation as the chief guest.