India lends support to Nepal''s leadership on peace process

Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Jan 18 (PTI) As Nepal struggles to bringits fragile peace process on track, India today extended itsfull support to it for a satisfactory culmination of thetransition and strengthening of a democratic set up.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today held high levelconsultations on the first day of her official visit to Nepal,holding meetings with President Ram Baran Yadav and PrimeMinister Madhav Kumar Nepal, among others.

The Foreign Secretary first called on President Yadav,and later held talks with Nepal and Parliament speaker SubhashNemwang.

During her meeting with Prime Minister Nepal at thelatter''s residence, Rao conveyed India''s strong support to asatisfactory culmination of the peace process andstrengthening of multi party democracy in Nepal.

Nepal is locked in a political crisis for over a yearand its peace process is in tatters as it struggles to getover political and ideological differences between majorparties who were elected to the Constituent Assembly in 2008in the landmark elections that marked the country''s transitionfrom a monarchy to a parliamentary republic.

The Constituent Assembly that was tasked with draftinga constitution has failed to make any progress and the peaceprocess remains stalled.

Nepal has failed to elect a new prime ministerfollowing the resignation of Nepal, with 16 rounds ofinconclusive polls in the parliament, further hampering thepeace process.

"We discussed matters of common concern of bilateral,regional and international levels. We had very good discussionon a number of issues as close neighbours and we have been inconstant touch," she said after the meeting.

She said that during her meeting with the PrimeMinister, they also assessed the progress made in implementingvarious projects under bilateral cooperation between Nepal andIndia.

Rao said the two sides felt there was a need toexpedite work on projects which were agreed upon during thevisit of Prime Minister Nepal to India in August 2009.

Prime Minister Nepal''s Foreign Affairs Adviser RajanBhattarai said during the meeting the two sides agreed to makeprogress on various projects being constructed under Indianassistance.

"There are some projects like Integrated Check Post,cross border Railway survey and formation of Nepal PoliceAcademy, in which works have delayed due to various reasons,and the two sides have agreed to expedite these projects," hesaid.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Nepal told theForeign Secretary that his country is working for earlyconclusion of the peace process by expediting the integrationand rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. .

Nepal told the Foreign Secretary that political parties are working towards forming a national consensusgovernment soon as per the call made by the President.

The Special Committee comprising representatives ofthe major political parties will take up the responsibility ofmonitoring of the arms and the armies after the UN Mission''sexit, he pointed out.

The formal ceremony of handing over of monitoringworks to the Special Committee will take place on Saturday inChitawan, where one of the cantonments is located, he said.

The Prime Minister also reiterated Nepal''s invitationto Indian President and Prime Minister to visit the HimalayanRepublic during the meeting.

Rao will meet top leaders of various political partiestomorrow, including Maoist chief Prachanda, while she willmeet Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koiralaon Thursday before concluding her three-day official visit.

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