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No arms deal with India: Nepal PM

world Updated: Jul 26, 2009 18:39 IST

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Sunday dismissed reports in the Nepali and Indian media that his government was on an arms-shopping spree in India, saying they were "baseless rumours".

Summoned by a parliamentary committee Sunday to clarify his coalition government's stand on making fresh arms purchases from India and other internal issues, the communist leader said his government would not do anything to endanger the ongoing peace process.

Nepal also rejected speculation that his government was planning to clamp president's rule in the republic.

"According to the prime minister, no agreement has been signed with the Indian government to purchase arms," Nepal's foreign affairs advisor Rajan Bhattarai told IANS.

The controversy arose after Nepal's Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari went to New Delhi on a week-long visit last week. Though described as a visit for receiving medical treatment at New Delhi's Apollo Hospital, Bhandari met her Indian counterpart A.K. Antony as well as Indian politicians like Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

Bhattarai said the subject of "resuming military assistance might have cropped up during the meeting between the two defence ministers but no agreement was signed".

"If it's imperative, then Nepal would of course buy arms," Bhattarai said. "However, the prime minister has said that it would be done only after political consensus."

India had armed Nepal with its indigenously manufactured Insas group of firearms during the 10-year Maoist insurgency in Nepal to restore law and order as well as control the circulation of arms from other western sellers.

However, it stopped the sale, made at a 70 percent subsidy, in February 2005 to show its anger at King Gyanendra, who ignored New Delhi's advice to stage an army-backed coup and seize absolute power.

Bhandari's New Delhi visit has created a furore in Nepal with the Maoists, now the main opposition party after a brief stint in power, warning that any arms purchase would derail the peace process.

The UN also cautioned both the Nepal government and Maoists last week, saying any move by either to make fresh recruitment or replenish their arsenals would violate the peace agreement.