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Pleased to see Modi’s focus on building Indian economy: New Zealand PM

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Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he’s happy to see that under Narendra Modi’s leadership, there is a renewed focus on building Indian economy, and called for closer ties between the two countries.

In an email interview here, Key said closer economic and political ties between New Zealand and India would help both countries immensely.

“Prime Minister Modi has ambitious goals for improving India’s economic prosperity. I am pleased to see the renewed focus on building India’s economy,” Key told IANS in response to a question on his impressions about Modi.

Key, who has led the nation since 2008, said, “New Zealand, a small trading nation, wants to foster closer economic and political ties” with India as Indian economy is on the rise.

The prime minister, who heads the New Zealand National Party, said the two countries have a “great and growing” relationship and it “is one we are very keen to develop further”.

Key said India was New Zealand’s second-largest source of international students and “our largest source of skilled migrants”, and praised the large and growing Indian community in his country, pointing out that they make a huge contribution to New Zealand.

Hoping to visit India next year and meet Prime Minister Modi, he said he would be very pleased to host Modi in New Zealand. “Perhaps one day soon, I can tempt him down to attend an India/New Zealand cricket match,” he added.

Key has maintained for long that films and sports are two routes to make inroads for New Zealand into the hearts of Indian travellers.

To this end, Bollywood’s young and dashing actor Sidharth Malhotra has been appointed as the country’s tourism ambassador in India.

Sidharth even met Key here earlier this week, and they spoke about films, rugby, education, food and more.

Key praised Sidharth’s appointment as the first Indian ambassador for Tourism New Zealand, and said this would help foster stronger bonds between the two countries.

“I am sure he will encourage Indian travellers to visit our lovely country,” he said, adding that Sidharth, “a very nice young man”, was passionate about adventure tourism and would show India some of the “amazing activities available here”.

The actor has been experiencing that already — he has gone on the SkyWalk in Auckland and taken to skydiving, hot air ballooning and jetboating in Queenstown during his ongoing trip to the Pacific nation.

The prime minister said his country had much to offer, from its “beautiful scenery to unique cultural experience and outstanding food and wine”.

He said they would love to see more Indians coming to visit. “We will ensure they have a great time. And, of course, we have had some brilliant movies made here already so I would encourage representatives of your film industry to come and have a look for themselves,” the prime minister said.

(Radhika Bhirani, 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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