Prez in Delhi, meets Indian leaders

NEW DELHI: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has arrived in New Delhi on a four day state visit to India.

He was received by India's Minister of State Praneet Kaur at the VVIP lounge of Indira Gandhi International Airport. India's Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood and Nepal's Ambassador to India Rukma Shamsher Rana and officials of the Embassy of Nepal and the Ministry of External Affairs also welcomed the President. This is Dr Yadav's maiden foreign visit after assumption of the high office of the Presidency.

On the first day of the visit, Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani, Chairman of Janata Dal United Sharad Yadav, Chairman of Nepal Democracy Solidarity Committee DP Tripathi met the President.

All the Indian leaders inquired about the current political situation of Nepal, possibility of completing the constitution writing within the prescribed deadline of May 28, and a likely political scenario in case the constitution is not written on time.

Advani said he told the president that he wanted to see Nepal's peace process as well as framing of the new constitution completed on time. Advani also told the President that he wanted to see democracy stabilised in Nepal to which the President agreed.

"We want to preserve the traditional bonds that exist between India and Nepal. I told the President that we want to see our religious, cultural and political ties preserved as firm as they were in the past," Advani told media representatives after his meeting with President Dr Yadav.

Advani however said he did not discuss with the president anything about the Unified CPN-Maoist's anti-India campaign.

Tripathi, who is also the General Secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party, said he discussed with the President all the contemporary issues of Nepal and wanted to know from the Nepali dignitary as to how India could help in the northern neighbour's overall development and in the issues of peace process. Tripathi said the President was in favour of the Constituent Assembly completing the constitution writing on time.

Tripathi however said that they did not discuss the possible political scenario if the constitution was not written on time. Tripathi said the President was in favour of forging consensus among the political parties in order to resolve all current political issues.

When asked if both of them discussed the UCPN-M's disenchantment with other political parties, Tripathi said they positively evaluated the Maoist's role as they have softened in the last few weeks.

"The Maoists have not been resorting to any violent political tactics. They have become a part of the High Level Political Mechanism -- indicative of Maoists softening their stance," Tripathi said.

Rajendra Dahal, Press Advisor to the President, said JDU Chief Sharad Yadav wanted to know from the President as to why the Maoists' were resorting to anti-India campaign.

According to Dahal the President told the JDU leader that the constitution writing process was still on track but was not moving at the pace it was supposed to. Yadav inquired with the president of a possible fallout if the constitution writing was not completed in time.

Similarly, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also met the President and discussed issues of mutual interest.The President also attended a reception hosted by Ambassador Rana on the Embassy premises. Dr Yadav is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari and other ministers tomorrow.