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India to help flood-hit Nepal


New Delhi : India and Nepal Thursday discussed ways to deal with the aftermath of floods that have severely affected people in both countries as Kathmandu sought to clear the air over Prime Minister Prachanda’s recent trip to China.

In the first high-level contact between India and Nepal since Prachanda became prime minister last week, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including the need for a revision of the 1950 treaty of peace and friendship between the two countries.

The two ministers also discussed the grim situation arising out of floods that have affected millions in both countries as New Delhi offered to help the neighbouring country to re-build roads and infrastructure.

“It’s a matter of grave concern for India and Nepal. Both sides discussed how the two countries can work together to deal with the situation,” Nepal’s Ambassador to India Durgesh Man Singh told IANS after talks between Mukherjee and Yadav.

“India has also agreed to give funds for victims of floods in Nepal. But the details are yet to be worked out,” he said.

“The East-West highway in Nepal has been hit badly due to floods. We have sought India’s assistance for re-building this road,” he said.

Yadav also cleared the air about Prachanda’s China visit that was seen by some in India as a sign of Kathmandu’s pro-Beijing tilt. He stressed that the premier went to China to represent Nepal at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The two ministers also discussed the agenda for the visit of Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda to India next month. Dates are yet to be worked out.

He stressed that Prachanda will be coming on his first political visit to India. Reiterating Nepal’s new government’s policy of maintaining “equidistance” or balanced relations with both India and China, he stressed Kathmandu’s ties with New Delhi are special.

Yadav, the leader the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum which represents the
interests of Madhesis in the Terai region bordering India, is known to have a wide network of contacts cutting across political parties in India.

Mukherjee also met Bangladesh Foreign Minister Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury and discussed with him a range of bilateral and regional issues.

Foreign ministers of six countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand arrived here Thursday for the ministerial meeting of BIMSTEC, a seven-nation grouping that aims at boosting intra-regional cooperation, to be held here Friday.