Nepal PM Oli seeks more investments from India

Hugh Fox
April 8, 2018

The two Prime Ministers underlined the need for expeditious implementation of bilateral projects in Nepal, and to reinvigorate the existing bilateral mechanisms to promote cooperative agenda across diverse spheres. "So, we both agree that we have to move ahead with the hopes and expectations of a public-centered vision, the common goals of development, and the happiness and prosperity of the people of both the countries", Modi said in the media statement after the talks.

Modi said the two countries were looking to improve connectivity through waterways and railways. "Let bygones be bygones was the common refrain at the meetings between the two sides at different levels, " an official quipped, in an obvious reference to the bitterness that marked Oli's first term in office in 2015-16 when India imposed an economic blockade on Nepal, which forced the Nepalese leadership to strengthen links with China. The relations between India and Nepal took a nosedive thereafter with his Government accusing India of causing instability and economic blockage.

On security and open borders, Mr. Modi said: "We have strong relations when it comes to the aspect of security and are committed towards stopping misuse of our open borders".

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Oli, who has developed closer ties with China with a known pro-Beijing stance, said he has come to India "with a mission" to take bilateral ties based on "principles of equality and justice" to newer heights but "commensurate with the realities of the 21st Century".

It was during Oli's previous stint as PM in 2016 that Nepal had sought to lessen its dependence on India as a principal supplier of key essential items like energy as well as the route for transit and trade.

Modi's tough message to Kathmandu - Oli's three-day visit starts Friday - will be couched in the niceties of diplomatic prose, but there will be no denying "India's red lines", a senior government official told The Indian Express.

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Prime Minister Oli also stated that after the landmark political transformation, his government has given priority to economic transformation with the motto "Samriddha Nepal Sukhi Nepali". He added that he had invited Modi to visit Nepal "at the earliest convenient time".

Referring to the decision to develop the inland waterways within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, Oli said the additional connectivity would have enormous impact on the growth of business and economy in Nepal. India extended a $1 billion credit line to Nepal for infrastructure development in 2015. "Geographically, we are in (the) centre between the two countries". We want to create a model relationship. The two Prime Ministers also witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross-border petroleum products pipeline at Motihari.

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