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Sushma Swaraj in Kathmandu, says Nepal high priority
Friday July 25, 2014 8:54 PM, Anil Giri, IANS

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Sawarj arrived in Kathmandu Friday evening on a three-day official visit during which she will co-chair the third meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission.

She is the first high-level foreign official to visit Nepal after the second Constituent Assembly elections held in this Himalayan nation in November last year.

"I am here two months after the formation of a new government in India," Sushma Swaraj said in a brief statement on her arrival at Tribhuvan international Airport.

"I am here to participate in the joint commission meeting," she said speaking in Hindi, adding that the new government in India has accorded its relations with Nepal high priority.

Her visit would help improve bilateral understanding at the political level and strengthen mutual trust, said Nepal Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

Besides reviewing the status of bilateral projects, the joint commission will further activate some three dozen mechanisms that exist between the two countries.

The meeting, being held after a gap of 23 years, will review bilateral relations in their entirety. An apex mechanism, the joint commission is mandated to review, assess and evaluate past agreements, project performance and the jobs carried out by the 32 mechanisms established at various levels between the two countries.

The meeting is expected to seek a way to streamline the channels and provide an impetus to bilateral ties.

Sushma Swaraj had no official engagement for the day after landing in Kathmandu Friday evening. Besides co-chairing the joint committee meeting with her Nepali counterpart Pandey, the Indian minister will call on President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala besides meeting political leaders.

After worshipping at Pashupatinath Temple Sunday morning, she will leave for New Delhi on a chartered flight. She will be accompanied by Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and officials from the Indian ministries of power, water resources, commerce, road transport, railways, human resource development, culture, and external affairs as also the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Each side will have a 27-member delegation in the meeting.

According to Nepal's foreign ministry, the meeting will discuss five core areas of cooperation between the neighbours: political, security, border and border management; economic cooperation and infrastructure; trade and transit; energy and water resource; and culture, education and media.

A joint communique will be issued at the end of the meeting. Several rounds of meetings at the foreign ministry attended by political leaders and experts have provided inputs for the joint commission's meeting.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala called a three-party meeting Friday morning to discuss the agenda of the visit with Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) and United Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) leaders.

In a Nepali Congress office bearers' meeting Thursday, Minister for Information and Communications Minendra Rijal gave details of the agenda of the meeting.

Among the host of issues to be discussed during the meeting are border security, illegal drugs and narcotics trade, human trafficking, hydro-power projects, and roads and railway infrastructure.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)




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