Modi, Oli vow to boost relations between India, Nepal

New Delhi: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday saying that "Nepal's stability is linked to India's security", his Nepalese counterpart K. P. Sharma Oli expressed the desire to take relations between the two countries to the "same level of enthusiasm" as earlier by clearing up all "misunderstandings".

"The whole of India and I are in favour of economic development of Nepal... I am confident that under your able leadership, India-Nepal relations will further strengthen and attain new heights," Modi told Oli while addressing a joint press conference with him here.

"It is clear that the stability of Nepal is linked to India's security. Prime Minister Oli and I agree that we need to face together the rising extremism and terrorism in the two countries," Modi said.

The two leaders also vowed not to allow the open border between the two nations to be misused by terrorists and criminals.

"We will not allow terrorists and criminals to misuse the open borders between the two countries.

"Security agencies of both countries will collaborate closely in this context," Modi said.

Oli, while thanking India for its vital support, said he had come to India to clear "misunderstandings" that surfaced in the recent past.

"The main mission of my visit is to clear misunderstandings that surfaced in the last few months and to take back our relations to the same level of enthusiasm when Modiji visited Nepal in August 2014," said Oli.

He also thanked India for all the support it provided to Nepal over the years for its developmental work in various fields, and specially for spontaneous support after the earthquake in April last year that killed 8,800 people and destroyed property worth crores of rupees.

"The support and solidarity shown by our friends from India turns the heads of Nepalese people," he said, adding that "we equally appreciate the support of India in our reconstruction drive".

Oli, who is making his first foreign visit after the Himalayan nation adopted a new constitution in September last year, said that India and Nepal shared a lot in common and their relations were beyond formalities.

The two prime ministers tele-inaugurated a power transmission line between Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Dhalkebar in Nepal.

"We are working on hydro projects with combined capacity of 7,000 MW and their quick and successful completion can be a gateway to Nepal's economic prosperity," Modi said, adding that the just inaugurated power line would initially provide 80 MW electricity to Nepal but in the next two years it would provide up to 600 MW of power.

India and Nepal also signed nine agreements following delegation-level talks led by Modi and Oli.

The agreements signed on Saturday between the two sides included those on utilisation of an Indian grant of $250 million for post-earthquake reconstruction, improving road infrastructure in Nepal's Terai area, cultural cooperation, transit between Nepal and Bangladesh through the Kakarbitta-Banglabandh corridor, and use of Visakapatnam port by Nepal.

Speaking to the media later in the day, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that Oli briefed Modi on the developments in Nepal after the adoption of the new constitution.

“Our prime minister appreciated the progress made towards the consolidation of constitutional democracy in Nepal, acknowledging the two amendments which were passed by the Nepalese parliament as positive steps,” he said.

Nearly 60 people lost their lives in violent protests after the adoption of the new constitution last year with agitating Madhesi political parties and ethnic groups of the Nepal Terai demanding amendments in the statute that they deem discriminatory and ignoring their rights.

Crucial entry points from India to Nepal were blocked by the agitators leading to shortage of essential supplies and medicines in the northern neighbour.

Nepal blamed the Indian establishment for instigating the trouble, a charge New Delhi has firmly and constantly denied.

On January 23, the Nepal parliament approved the first ever amendment to the country's new constitution to address the agitating Madhesis' demands for proportionate representation and allocation of seats in parliament on the basis of population.

In Saturday's talks, Oli said of the constitutional issues that were being discussed and debated, some of them have been addressed and some are still being addressed, Jaishankar said.

The six-day visit of Oli, who arrived here on Friday, is the first state visit by a prime minister from the Himalayan nation since 2011.

Earlier on Saturday, Oli was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he inspected a guard of honour.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called on the visiting dignitary during the day. Oli later called on Vice President Hamid Ansari and President Pranab Mukherjee.