Bi-lateral cooperation on the cards as PM Modi visits Nepal today
New Delhi, May 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Nepal on May 16 for a brief visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, and also hold comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba to expand bilateral cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity, news agency PTI reported.
PM Modi will visit the Himalayan nation at the invitation of Deuba, according to Nepal Prime Minister's Press advisor Anil Pariyar.
He is paying a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. It will be the prime minister's fifth visit to Nepal since 2014.
He is scheduled to land in Lumbini at 10 AM (local time) and return home at around 5 PM (local time), according to Indian embassy sources.
Modi will visit the sacred Maya Devi temple and offer prayers, they said.
He will also deliver an address at the Buddha Jayanti celebrations organised by the Lumbini Development Trust.
The visiting Prime Minister will also participate in the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a centre for Buddhist Culture and heritage within the Lumbini Monastic Zone.
Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places of Buddhism, as Lord Buddha was born there.
Prime Minister Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Deuba will also hold a bilateral meeting in Lumbini.
"During the meeting, they will exchange views on Nepal-India cooperation and matters of mutual interests," according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
In a statement ahead of his visit, Modi said he was looking forward to meeting Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba again after their "productive" discussions during his visit to India last month.
Both sides will continue to build on the shared understanding to expand cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity, he said.
"Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled. The civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship.
"My visit is intended to celebrate and further deepen these time-honoured linkages that have been fostered through centuries and recorded in our long history of intermingling," Modi said in his departure statement on Sunday.
On Friday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba at Lumbini in Nepal on May 16 will have a comprehensive agenda to further expand cooperation in multiple areas including hydropower and connectivity.
Asked whether the boundary dispute between the two sides will figure in the talks, he said India has always maintained that the existing bilateral mechanisms are the best way forward to deliberate on the issues, adding they should be discussed in a "responsible manner" without their "politicisation".
According to Indian Embassy sources, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Kwatra, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other senior officials will be in the Prime Minister's entourage.
Deuba was in Delhi last month in his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming prime minister for the fifth time in July 2021.
During the visit, which was aimed at injecting fresh momentum into bilateral ties, Deuba held talks with Modi on a number of key issues, including the boundary issue.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old "Roti-Beti" relationship.
The landlocked Himalayan nation shares a border of over 1,850 kms with five Indian states - Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.