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Prachanda seeks better ties

New Delhi, April 29, 2013, DHNS: 2:31 IST
Prachanda
Even as the latest border standoff underlined the strategic rivalry between India and China, Nepal’s Maoist leader and former prime minister Prachanda on Monday suggested cooperation between the two for development of his country.

Though Nepal is perceived to be yet another theatre of the Sino-Indian strategic rivalry, Prachanda, known for his friendly ties with the leadership of the Communist Party of China, said New Delhi, Beijing and Kathmandu could forge a trilateral partnership for development of his country. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) chief, who is on a tour to New Delhi, was speaking at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) here.

Prachanda, aka Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was on a week-long tour to China just before coming to India.

He said on Monday that Chinese President Xi Jinping and the rest of the new leadership in Beijing responded positively to his proposal for an India-China-Nepal trilateral arrangement for development and economic prosperity in the region. “An economically strong Nepal is in the interest of both India and China,” he told a gathering of retired diplomats and foreign policy analysts at the ICWA.

His proposal for India-China-Nepal cooperation came at a time when New Delhi and Beijing are caught up in a diplomatic row in the wake of the April 15 incursion by soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control at the Depsang Bulge area in Ladakh.

Prachanda had a meeting with National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon on Monday. He is expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and have a meeting with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday.

Prachanda said New Delhi, Beijing and Kathmandu could come together to develop mega hydro-electric units and other key infrastructure projects in Nepal.

He also said India could join China in a project to develop Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini in Nepal. A Chinese quasi-government organisation is expected to fund the $ 3 billion project, which is seen by many in New Delhi as an attempt by Beijing to widen its strategic foothold in Nepal.

Prachanda, who led a Maoist insurgency in Nepal for 12 years, had upset New Delhi in 2008, when he chose to visit China first after becoming the prime minister. Almost all of his predecessors in the last 50 years had come to India on their first official visit as premier.

He had subsequently sought to strike a balance with a visit to India, but again stepped up his rhetoric against New Delhi in the wake of his tussle with Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav, which finally led to his resignation in May 2009.

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