Monday, 15 September 2008

Nepal PM sets to rest doubts about China ties

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to allay India's apprehension about growing proximity between Nepal and China, visiting Nepalese PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' on Monday said his country's ties with India were crucial and vital.

Prachanda, who is on a five-day visit to India, added that Nepal's ties with India could not be compared with his country's relations with Beijing.

Prachanda, who arrived in Delhi on Sunday evening, made the remarks at a meeting organized by CII and FICCI.

"Due to our specific culture, history and tradition of economic inter-dependence, relations with India are crucial and vital. Although we also want to develop relations with China, they cannot be compared right now," Prachanda said.

Later in the evening, Prachanda met PM Manmohan Singh and the two leaders discussed several issues including the 1954 Kosi river treaty. The Nepal foreign minister had earlier admitted that a breach in the embankment of the river in Nepal had resulted in the devastating flood which affected millions in Bihar.

India wants the treaty to be implemented properly to avoid such disasters in the future. Under the Kosi treaty, which provides for flood control, irrigation management and hydro-power generation, the Bihar government has been entrusted with the task of managing Kosi till 2153.

The leaders also discussed the 1950 Trade and Transit Treaty between the two countries. The Nepal PM said he wanted the treaty to be reviewed or even replaced with a new one. Sources said the security issue also cropped up and India expressed concerns about Nepal becoming a safe haven for ISI operatives.

There is a growing perception in India that Nepal is likely to drift towards China after Prachanda's coming to power. Prachanda's visit to Beijing during the Olympics soon after he took over only added to the notion. The PM later clarified that the visit to Beijing was only for Games.

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