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Nepal prime minister's temptation and gamble

world Updated: Apr 03, 2007 16:27 IST

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It was a gamble for Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala who, despite his indifferent health and much against doctor's advice, couldn't "resist the temptation" of coming to the SAARC summit.

Addressing the opening session of the 14th SAARC summit on Monday, Koirala, the elder statesman of Nepal, also used the occasion to confess to the biggest gamble of his political life.

"I gambled 60 years of my political career to have a dialogue with the Maoists. Now I am happy that the Maoists have joined the government," said Koirala, who is serving his sixth stint as Nepal's prime minister.

"This is a new thing for Nepal," said the 84-year-old Koirala who arrived here Sunday after the formation of an interim government in his country comprising former Maoist rebels.

"Doctors told me not to go for the SAARC summit. But I couldn't resist the temptation of coming here," he said.

Clearly, neither age nor time could stale his passion for SAARC, which he stressed could become a key instrument in removing poverty from the region. "We should put our heads together in reducing poverty," he stressed.

But for all his commitment for the cause of SAARC integration, his ill-health was showing. Koirala had a difficult time even standing on the stage and his voice cracked as he delivered his address. He often left his chair during the nearly two hours that the plenary session lasted.

Koirala, a cigarette smoker, has suffered from intermittent breathing difficulty and remains under treatment.