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India-Nepal ties back on track, says Nepal Deputy PM

By Ians

New Delhi, June 10: Bilateral relations between India and Nepal are now back on track after recent hiccups and the Himalayan nation now looks to its southern neighbour to play a major role in consolidation of the political change that it has adopted, Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa said here on Friday.

"India has been a valued partner in Nepal's democratic transition," said Thapa while delivering a talk on "Current developments in Nepal and India-Nepal relations" at the Observer Research Foundation here.


Thapa said India-Nepal relations are "unique and special" and one should not compare Nepal's foreign policy vis-a-vis India and China -- its respective southern and northern neighbours.

"It cannot be same. Each nation has its own character and so the foreign policy will change accordingly," he said.

Thapa, who is also the foreign minister of Nepal, said Nepal was keen to derive maximum benefit from the two large global economies surrounding it -- that of China and India. India has already emerged as one of the fastest developing economies in the world, he pointed out.

"The misunderstandings of the recent past have been resolved and we are back on track... as many as 13 bilateral meetings lined up during June-July are proof that relations are good," Thapa earlier told media persons here at an interaction co-organised by the South Asian Women in Media and the South Asian Free Media Association.

In the run-up to the promulgation of Nepal's federal constitution in September last year -- and for a considerable period thereafter -- relations between Kathmandu and New Delhi soured after a wide section of population in Nepal's southern plains, the Terai or the Madhes, launched an agitation claiming that the new charter was discriminatory.

Thapa, here on a three-day visit -- his fifth in the last eight months -- sought to make clear that the new constitution was dynamic and amenable to change if it was so desired.

"We effected the first amendment in the new constitution within four months of its promulgation... if need be, it can be amended further," said Thapa, who heads a government panel set up to hold dialogue with the aggrieved Madhesi political parties which held nearly six-month-long protests in support of their demands.

"In a democracy -- despite it being the best form of governance, you can't have everyone happy," Thapa observed.

Thapa dismissed reports in the media that Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli told a meeting of his Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) that the anti-constitution agitation in the Terai region was India-inspired.

"Prime Minister Oli was misreported in the media... he did not say anything like that," Thapa asserted.



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