KATHMANDU (PTI): External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today met Nepal’s top leadership here and discussed important bilateral issues, including the finalisation of an extradition treaty and controlling of criminal activities along the porous border. Khurshid, who arrived here on a day-long visit, called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and Chairman of Council of Ministers Khil Raj Regmi besides meeting his Nepalese counterpart Madhav Prasad Ghimire.
Khurshid told the Nepali leaders that as a close friend, India remains strongly committed to the success of Nepal’s peace process and institutionalisation of democracy in a constitutional and multi-party framework. During the bilateral talks, issues ranging from “trade to water resources and inundation of land to security” were covered, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, spokesperson of Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters after Khurshid’s meeting with Regmi.
The two sides also discussed issues relating to finalising an extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance to control criminal activities on both sides of the border, he said. India has accused Pakistan’s spy agency ISI of pushing counterfeit currency notes into the country and promoting terrorism from Nepal. They agreed to resolve the issue relating to inundation of the Nepalese territory in Darchula and Kanchanpur in far-West Nepal during the recent flood at the earliest through activising the bilateral technical mechanism, Thapa said. Khurshid expressed his solidarity with the Nepalese officials and extended India’s goodwill and best wishes for the November 19 Constituent Assembly polls.
The meetings were very cordial and warm, Thapa told reporters outside the Prime Minister’s Office at Singhdurbar. Khursid also announced to donate 716 vehicles to Nepal’s Home Ministry for the use of security agencies and 48 vehicles to the Election Commission to facilitate the forthcoming Constituent Assembly polls. The vehicles were worth Nepali Rupees 800 million. The two sides also reviewed the existing India-Nepal defence ties, including military educational exchanges, joint exercises, and supplies of military stores and equipment, as required by Nepal.
The materials identified will be supplied to Nepal over the coming months (the immediate supplies sought are valued at Nepali Rupees 1.76 billion). Khurshid’s visit provided the two sides the opportunity to review the current progress of India-Nepal partnership. Khurshid and his Nepali counterpart reviewed the joint efforts against flood-related disasters, including the repair and maintenance works at major border rivers, especially Kosi and Gandak, official sources said. Besides activating all the existing bilateral consultative mechanisms and maintaining the embankments of Kosi and Gandak under the respective bilateral agreements, India has provided grant assistance of Nepali Rupees 2.543 billion during the past three years for protection works on the Kamala, Lalbakya, Khando and Bagmati rivers.
India accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nepal’s foreign trade, 70 per cent of Nepal’s exports, and almost half of its foreign direct investments. The two sides felt the need to continue consultations on measures to promote trade bilaterally and with third countries to optimise opportunities for Nepal’s economic growth. The two sides also reviewed progress of the bilateral development partnership programme, which includes large, cross-border connectivity and infrastructure projects, as well as community and grass-roots oriented Small Development Projects (SDPs) in the key areas of education, health and rural infrastructure.
Regarding USD 250 million Exim bank’s Line of Credit for Nepal, specific approvals have been obtained last month for Phase II of the Rahughat Hydroelectric Project, 220 KV Kosi Corridor Transmission Line Project, 132 KV Solu Corridor Transmission Live Project, and the 132 KV Modi Leknath Transmission Line Project, for utilising USD 175 million or Nepali Rupees 15.8 billion, sources said. Approvals for utilisation of the balance amount, for the construction of roads within Nepal, are in the pipeline, they added.
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