Nepal on Thursday assured New Delhi it would not allow any activity against India, as the two sides signed eight pacts, including on cooperation in countering drug trafficking and post-earthquake reconstruction in the Himalayan nation. After comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid emphasis on closer cooperation between the two countries’ security and defence forces to prevent any misuse of their open border. “Defence ties and assistance in security are an important aspect of our partnership. Our defence interests are also dependent on and connected to each other,” Modi said at a joint press briefing after the talks.
On his part, Deuba gave an assurance of “every support, every help and cooperation”.“I would like to assure you (Modi) Nepal will never allow any activity against friendly neighbour India and there will be every support, every help and cooperation from our side,” Deuba said. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said India conveyed to Nepal that the country should forge the “broadest possible consensus” and take every section of the people along in implementing its new Constitution. Asked if the issue of the Dokalam standoff between Chinese and Indian troops figured during the meetings Modi and Deuba had yesterday and today, Jaishankar replied in the negative. Acknowledging there were “issues” in the implementation of the Constitution, Deuba expressed confidence that a Constitution “encompassing” the views of the people from all sections and ethnicities would be a reality. Modi, too, exuded confidence that Nepal would take into consideration aspirations of all its citizens during the implementation of the Constitution. On August 21, the Nepalese parliament failed to endorse the much-awaited Constitution amendment bill to address the issues of the Madhesi people as the ruling coalition could not garner the two-thirds majority required for its passage. Deuba said both sides also exchanged views on regional and sub-regional cooperation using BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative) and create a “win-win” situation in various areas. The Nepalese prime minister said regular engagements at the highest political level would greatly contribute to sustaining and cementing trust between the two countries and his current visit was an effort towards it. The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Kataiya-Kusaha and Raxaul-Parwanipur cross border power transmission lines. Modi said this would give an additional 100 MW of power to Nepal, apart from the existing 350 MW. The two sides, he added, had also agreed on development of the Ramayana and Buddhist tourism circuits through better connectivity. Flood management and irrigation projects were a point of focus in the talks between the two countries. Modi stressed on greater coordination and consultation between the agencies of India and Nepal on flood management and said the two sides must work towards a long term solution, taking into consideration each others interests. While he expressed the hope that the Detailed Project Report for the Pancheshwar project on the Uttarakhand border would be finalised soon, Deuba stressed it would help in flood control and crop irrigation. Modi said Deuba had informed him that land acquisition issues for the Arun III irrigation project had been addressed and the Nepalese prime minister had invited him for the groundbreaking ceremony. Holding that Nepal was “not only a neighbour, but also a good friend of India”, Deuba said its relation with India stood on a solid foundation. He further stated he appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ and the approach of Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikas. “We are eager to see that this policy is translated into concrete and development activities,” he said.
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