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Modi meets Bhutan PM, Sri Lanka president

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New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his round of neighborhood diplomacy by meeting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on Friday to discuss economic cooperation.

On Thursday he met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There were no plans to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has canceled his visit to New York because of violent protests at home against a new constitution.

Modi complimented Sirisena on the successful and peaceful completion of parliamentary elections and said it showed a deep-rooted commitment to democracy, a trait shared with India.

About a recent UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) report calling for special courts with international participation to try those charged with war crimes during the civil war, Modi said that he supported the quest for justice, but also respected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. He added that a way could be found for a consensus between Colombo and the UNHRC.

Sri Lanka opposed UNHRC proposals for so-called ‘hybrid courts’ that had both Sri Lankan and international judges and investigators, and said it would only accept advice from outside. The United States is drafting a resolution on the subject, and according to media reports, it would call for ‘hybrid courts’ and Sri Lanka is trying hard to block it.

Modi and Sirisena also discussed the bilateral development projects that include the building of 57,000 houses in areas ravaged by civil war, railway infrastructure and power generation.

Development projects figured prominently in discussions between Tobgay and Modi, according to Swarup. The hydroelectric projects India was building for Bhutan would export power to India in a large enough quantity to save 11 million metric tons of carbon by not using fossil fuels to generate that amount of electricity. That would be a contribution to sustainability.

Tobgay suggested extending the Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal connectivity project beyond the motorway to other types of links.

Both Sri Lanka and Bhutan backed Security Council reforms. Tobgay said that it was an anomaly that India was not a permanent member of the Council.

(IANS)

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)

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