Nepal-India relations had reached a new height‚ says PM

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, said upon his return from a four-day India visit, that Nepal-India relations had reached a new height in the real sense.

At a press meet at Tribhuvan International Airport, he said the trip had succeeded in developing and expanding the multifaceted relations between the two countries not only at government level but also at people’s level.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed India’s readiness to help in necessary areas of Nepal’s peace, law and order and development during the one-on-one meeting with him, the PM said. “I thanked India for its important help in the past and put forth the necessity to strengthen bilateral relations for Nepal’s development,” he said adding that the Indian side had accepted it positively.

He met the Indian president, vice president, prime minister, home minister, finance minister, defence minister, and foreign affairs minister, senior officials, senior leaders of different political parties, civil society members, journalists, intellectuals and industrialists’ representative organisations. The PM said Indian businessmen expressed interest in participating in Nepal’s development.

“This is a very important visit as it has set up a major foundation to develop new dimension in Nepal-India relations. Both sides utilised the opportunity to remove doubts and reservations. We focused on finding new possibilities and this visit has created an atmosphere of trust, which is the biggest achievement,” the PM said.

The PM termed the signing of the three agreements — Line of credit of US $ 250 million, goitre control and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), important achievements. He said the Indian Finance Minister would come to Nepal at the earliest, possibly in a week, to sign Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, which could not be signed during the visit as the cabinet of both countries needed to endorse it first.

Defending BIPPA, the PM said Nepal’s independence, integrity and sovereignty should not be questioned because of BIPPA. Trade deficit has soared alarmingly, but investment has not increased and youths are compelled to go abroad for employment, BIPPA was imperative to attract Indian investment as India is the major source of foreign investment in Nepal. It favours national welfare, he said. BIPPA will attract foreign investment and reduce Nepal’s longstanding trade deficit by increasing export of Nepali goods. War, armed conflict, insurrection, raid, civil disturbance are included in BIPP agreements between India and other countries. “But in Nepal’s case, we have not mentioned civil disturbance for compensating investors. So, I request you not to doubt it,” he said.

On the protest from his own party regarding BIPPA, he said “They might have not understood it, we will make them understand.”

The two countries will activate nearly two dozen bilateral mechanisms to settle problems.

Meanwhile some UCPN-M cadres showed black flags at the PM.HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

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