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Nepal calls Sushma Swaraj’s ‘Modi addressing Indians in Janakpur’ remark unfortunate

Addressing a press briefing in New Delhi on Monday, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said that PM Modi addressed lakhs of “Indians” in Janakpur in Nepal during his visit there earlier this month. She later apologised, but Nepal termed the statement unfortunate.

india Updated: May 29, 2018 20:18 IST
Indo Asian News Service, Kathmandu
Nepal,Sushma Swaraj,Narendra Modi
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said that no Prime Minister before Narendra Modi had tried to reach out to the Indian diaspora on such a large scale.(HT/Mohd Zakir)

Nepal on Tuesday said that a statement made by India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Janakpur was “unfortunate”.

Addressing a press briefing in New Delhi on Monday, Swaraj said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed lakhs of “Indians” in Janakpur during his visit there earlier this month. She said no PM before Modi had tried to reach out to the Indian diaspora on such a large scale.

However, she later apologised after it was pointed out that Modi addressed Nepali people in Janakpur and not Indians.

Reacting to Swaraj’s statement, Nepal’s foreign ministry said, “Attention of the government of Nepal was drawn to the statement... The reference made about public participation at the civic felicitation programme held in honour of the Prime Minister of India in Janakpur on 11 May 2018 was unfortunate.

“It has come to the notice of the government of Nepal that she has publicly admitted her mistake and apologised for the same. The government of Nepal sincerely thanks all those who raised concerns over the issue,” it said.

Swaraj had said that no Prime Minister before Modi had tried to reach out to the Indian diaspora on such a large scale. “Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country who has from America’s Madison Square to Janakpur (in Nepal) addressed lakhs of Indians and reached out to them.”

She was then criticised by Nepali leaders for her remark. “Regrettable that India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj described Janakpur’s population that Narendra Modi greeted as Indians. One wonders what the confusion was, or if this was a casual undermining of Nepal’s sovereignty,” Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa tweeted.

Hours later, she rolled back her statement and apologised to people on Twitter, saying: “This was a mistake on my part.”

First Published: May 29, 2018 20:18 IST