Nepal Prez visit: India go all out to woo the Himalayan state

Nepal Prez visit: India go all out to woo the Himalayan state
India is set to roll out a red carpet for Nepal's first woman President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, who would be arriving here on Monday on her first state visit.
 
This would be the fourth top-level engagement between the two South Asian neighbours in the last six months, signifying India's keenness to improve its ties with the Himalayan nation in the wake of last year's economic blockade that crippled the land locked country.
 
Nepal's Prime Minister visited India in September and October (for the BRICS summit) after which President Pranab Mukherjee traveled to Kathmandu.
 
“Since November 2016, we have 30 official engagements with Nepal,” Sudhakar Dalela, joint secretary (north) in the Ministry of External Affairs said here on Sunday.
 
President Bhandari would be in Delhi till Tuesday (April 18) after which she would be travelling to Gujarat for visiting Dwarka and Somnath temple. She would end her official tour with a visit to Puri Jagannath temple.
 
Her visit coincides with Nepal first military engagement with China as the two armies would hold their first military drill focusing on anti-terror operations and disaster response. Named Sagarmatha Friendship 2017, the ten-day long military exercise would end on April 26.
 
While Dalela didn't comment on the significance of the military drill between Kathmandu and Beijing, he insisted that Narendra Modi government was going all out to establish the bridges of cooperation with the Himalayan state, which often turns to China seeking assistance.
 
In February, the Union Cabinet approved Rs 5720 crore Arun-3 hydroelectric power project in the Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal. Five cross-country railway links are being built, out of which construction had begun on two. Two integrated check posts at Raxaul and Jogbani are under construction to link these Indian border towns with Birganj and Biratnagar respectively.
 
The centre has also agreed to construct 16 roads in Nepal, costing $ 300 million besides carrying out a separate Rs 500 crore project on Terai roads.
 
The upswing in bilateral engagement comes after the traditional links between the two nations nosedived last year with Kathmandu alleging Indian hands in a prolonged economic blockade, few months after the devastating earthquake of 2015 .
 
On the face of it, the blockade was caused by the Madhesis, a Nepali community that opposed the new constitution. The agitators blocked the trading points on the border for almost four months restricting supply of petroleum products, medicines and other commodities by India.
 
“India has an abiding interest in peace and stability in Nepal,” Dalela said, refusing to answer queries on Nepal's new constitution.

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