Singh congratulates new Nepal PM Khanal

New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singhhas congratulated Jhalanath Khanal, his newly-electedcounterpart in Nepal, for being chosen as the next head of thegovernment of the neighbouring country.

The Prime Minister called Khanal last evening, soonafter he was elected by Nepal''s Constituent Assembly as thenext prime minister, ending a seven-month deadlock over theformation of a new government.

Khanal, 60, is the leader of the Communist Party ofNepal (United Marxist-Leninist), and he was elected withcrucial support of the CPN-Maoist whose chief Prachanda quitthe race at the last minute to enable the former''s election.

The country has been without a government since theJune 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal underintense Maoist pressure. The standoff has delayed the draftingof a new constitution and conclusion of the peace process.

India has extended support to Nepal''s Constitution-drafting process.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao last month visited thecountry where she met the top leadership and said India wantsto see a stable, peaceful and developed Nepal.

The political crisis has been damaging for Nepal,which is still reeling from a decade of civil war that endedin 2006.

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