India willing to work with new govt: Swaraj

Kathmandu, February 2

Visiting Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj today concluded her two-day Nepal visit, holding meetings with CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav at Hotel Soaltee Crown Plaza this morning before paying a courtesy call on President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba separately.

Yesterday, Swaraj had held meetings with CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, other UML leaders and members of the presidium of the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal. She left for New Delhi at around 3:30pm.

According to the statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs after the conclusion of her Nepal visit, Swaraj congratulated the government and people of Nepal for the successful conduct of three-tier elections, terming it ‘an important milestone in the democratic transition of Nepal’.

“EAM conveyed to all political leaders of Nepal that the Government of India is looking forward to working with the democratically-elected government to take forward bilateral ties to newer heights for mutual benefit, and to support the Government of Nepal, as per its priorities, in its endeavours for rapid economic growth and development,” read the MEA India statement.

During her breakfast meeting with Dahal, ‘positive and constructive’ talks were held on post-election situation and preparations for the formation of the new government in Nepal. “I conveyed to Swaraj that Nepal needs political stability and development and wants to maintain harmonious relations with neighbours,” said Dahal, talking to mediapersons after the meeting.

In her meeting with Yadav, discussions were held on deepening Nepal-India bilateral relations, including enhancing people-to-people contacts.

According to a close aide of Yadav, Swaraj queried about constitution amendment and  preparations for the appointment of chief minister in Province 2.

After meeting Dahal and Yadav, Swaraj and her delegation paid a courtesy call on President Bhandari this afternoon at the Office of the President in Shital Niwas.

Swaraj conveyed to the president that she was not here with any specific agenda, but to congratulate leaders on the new mandate after the recent elections, according to the President’s Press Adviser Madhav Sharma.

“The president told her that no agenda was needed for leaders of the neighbouring countries to visit each other's’ countries, and that such visits helped strengthen ties,” said Sharma. “The president also hoped that the new government to be formed would work to deepen Nepal-India ties.”

In her final engagement of the two-day Nepal visit, the Indian minister and her delegation had a lunch meeting with Prime Minister Deuba in Baluwatar. They dwelt on enhancing bilateral cooperation to take age-old and historical partnership forward. “It was a pleasure welcoming India’s Minister of External Affairs, Ms @SushmaSwaraj, to Baluwatar this afternoon. We discussed ways to further bolster the multi-faceted Nepal-India ties,” tweeted PM Deuba after the meeting.

During Swaraj’s meetings with the PM and the president, both sides expressed satisfaction over the state of bilateral ties and dwelt on matters of mutual interest. Swaraj conveyed that the Indian government was willing to continue its cooperation for socio-economic development of Nepal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Foreign affairs expert at the President’s Office Madan Kumar Bhattarai, Secretary at the President’s Office Bhupendra Prasad Paudel, Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and members of the Indian delegation were present when Swaraj met the PM and the president. Swaraj was accompanied by newly-appointed Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Keshav Gokhle, Spokesperson for Indian MEA Raveesh Kumar and India’s Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri.