Nepal's political stability in India's interest: Pranab

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Varanasi, Sep 26 (UNI) Union Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee today said Nepal's political stability and economic progress was in India's interest.

In his key note address at a seminar here on ''India and Nepal: partners for democracy and development'', Mr Mukherjee said he was convinced that the successfull culmination of the peace process would put Nepal firmly on the path to peace, stability and development.

He said the developmental challenges confronting Nepal, like India, was indeed daunting. The optimum and sustainable utilisation of the bountiful natural resources that Nepal was bestowed with, could help Nepal to emerge as the richest nation in South Asia.

The External Minister said Nepal would be able to handle the several challenges it now faced in writing a new constitution and thereby institutionalising multiparty competitive democracy, inclusiveness, federal structure, protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms and rule of law.

He said lasting democracy and true development were intrinsically interlinked. Democracy was not merely a form of government, but it was a way of life. It was a framework for freedom, freedom to progress and prosper, freedom to do better he added.

''Our own experience demonstrates that democracy was not something which solves all problems but provided legitimate means and ways to address issues that plural societies like India and Nepal face,'' Mr Mukherjee added.

India was Nepal's largest trade partner, source of foreign investment and tourist arrivals and home to a significant Nepalese community, the Minister said, adding that the recent official visit of the first elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachand' to India was a reaffirmation of this unique and special relationship.

''It provided the leadership of both our countries the opportunity to have free and frank discussion and review extensive bilateral cooperation, Mr Mukherjee noted.

UNI JL JAS SK HT1642

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