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Bush in limelight

The US President's India visit has grabbed front pages, prime time on television and triggered various reactions.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 14:36 IST

US President George W Bush's India visit has grabbed front pages in the Nepalese media, hogged prime time on television and triggered various reactions from readers.

Nepal's anti-establishment daily The Kathmandu Post on Friday relegated its own government to the sidelines to report the Bush visit.

"Bush broadsides King, Maoists: India, US clinch historic nuclear deal" screamed the seven-column, top story on its front page.

The report was accompanied by a huge photograph of Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shaking hands.

King Gyanendra, who has been ruling Nepal with an iron hand since last year when he seized power through a bloodless coup, was relegated to a single column on the left hand that dismissed his ongoing parleys with loyalist leaders as "pointless".

The more moderate Himalayan Times highlighted the civilian nuclear cooperation deal between India and the US as its front page top story, saying "India, US clinch momentous nuclear deal".

The main story, complete with a photograph of Bush with his arm on Singh's shoulders, was accompanied by a smaller report that said "Manmohan, Bush one on Nepal".

The handshaking picture re-appeared in the weekly Nepali Times onFriday with the focus on Nepal. "Bush talks to India about Nepal: US anxiety over Nepal's troubles figure in George W Bush's talks with Indian leaders," the headline said.

Bush was reported to have said in New Delhi Thursday: "On Nepal, we agreed that the Maoists should abandon violence and that the king should reach out to the political parties to restore democratic institutions."

Even the state-run Rising Nepal daily reported the visit on its front page, though tailoring it to propagate the palace's perspective.

"Bush urges Maoists to shun violence," said the 12-line report filed from Kathmandu by state news agency Rastriya Samachar Samiti.

The visit triggered several letters from Nepalese readers. One of them, Shree Shrestha, wrote an outraged letter published both by Nepali Times and the popular online

"During his trip to India, President Bush will definitely mention the need for democracy in Nepal," Shrestha wrote.

"He will ask India to take the lead in the same manner the British and French appeased Hitler by handing over Czechoslovakia. Democracy-minded Nepalis should wake up and smell the rat (sic). Our future lies in our hands."

Another angry reader, Pravas Singh, wrote: "If Bush really cares about Nepal, he would have visited Nepal and consulted with the Nepali people to really understand the depth of the problem and what the solution should really be."

However, Suwarn Vajracharya from Japan regarded the visit as a positive development for Nepal.

"Bush's mild stance will remind us of the message of Lord Buddha, whose native land is in trouble now for not heeding his message - Hatred begets hatred. Kindness begets kindness. Nothing but kindness ceases hatred," Vajracharya wrote.

"What is significant in President Bush's visit this time to South Asia is that he will force Nepal not by inciting violence arming the powerful party but by forcing the warring parties for reconciliation through his South Asian allies, particularly India."

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 14:36 IST