Oli and Swaraj discuss ways to further Nepal-India ties

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Congratulating the CPN-UML on its electoral victory, Swaraj is said to have remarked that Nepal was moving closer to a stable government

Feb 2, 2018-CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a one-to-one meeting for more than an hour before delegation-level talks between top UML leaders and officials from India at Hotel Soaltee on Thursday evening.

Oli, who most likely will be the next prime minister, was the focus of attention as the two sides discussed ways to further bilateral relations after government formation, among other issues.

The visit comes at a time when the left alliance of the UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) is set to form a new government in Kathmandu.

Swaraj, who had landed in the Capital a short while ago, told journalists at the Tribhuvan International Airport that she did not have any specific agenda for the visit even as she discussed issues with top UML leaders and attended a dinner hosted by Oli for her.

Senior UML leaders Ishwor Pokhrel, Pradeep Gyawali, Subas Nembang, Bishnu Poudel, Bishnu Rimal and Rajan Bhattarai were among those present in the meeting with newly appointed Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhle, Joint-Secretary North Sudhakar Dalela, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri and other senior officials from the Embassy of India in Kathmandu.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted, “In her first engagement, EAM Sushma met KP Sharma Oli, chairman of the CPN-UML, and congratulated [him] on his party’s victory in the recent elections. The two held wide ranging discussions on ways to take the special relations between India and Nepal forward.”

“Let’s forget the bitterness of the past,” Oli reportedly told Swaraj while expressing his “eagerness” to work closely with the Indian government. According to sources, Swaraj conveyed the message of Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, to Oli.

The two sides are learnt to have agreed to work together for the betterment of Nepal-India relations in the changed context.

Congratulating the UML on its electoral victory, Swaraj remarked that Nepal was getting a stable government after long. According to UML Secretary Gyawali, Swaraj said, “We want to work with the new government in Nepal.”

In response, Oli said that he wanted to work with New Delhi in areas of poverty alleviation and prosperity in Nepal.

The UML chairman said that bilateral ties should move ahead as per the new realities. The new government in Nepal would work for national prosperity, for which he looked forward to India’s support, UML leader Bhattarai quoted Oli as saying in the meeting.

Soon after landing in Kathmandu for an “agenda-less” visit, Swaraj had said “our relationship is of such a nature that we don’t need an excuse to visit each other. My visit to Nepal is to meet friends from all political parties and strengthen friendship.”

State Minister for Finance Udaya Shumsher Rana, Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, Indian Ambassador Puri and other officials welcomed her at the TIA.

After meeting with UML leaders, Swaraj held talks with leaders of the Madhes-based parties. Before wrapping up her visit, the Indian minister will call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and have a meeting with CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday.

Published: 02-02-2018 08:23

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