India has reiterated the high priority it accords to Nepal during a series of meetings visiting Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari held with Indian leaders, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.
Bhandari, who arrived here on Monday on a five-day official visit in what is her first foreign tour since assuming office in October 2015, held talks with President Pranab Mukherjee, who hosted a banquet in her honour, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley also called on the visiting dignitary.
"Both the sides noted that India-Nepal relations derive their strength and salience from shared history, common cultural ethos, and long years of close and intense people-to-people contacts facilitated by open borders," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
"The Indian leadership reiterated the importance of its 'neighborhood first' policy, and the high priority India attaches to strengthening relations with Nepal in every sphere," it stated.
"The Indian leadership expressed support to Nepal's endeavours to achieve socio-economic transformation for the well being of its people."
It said that the Indian leadership reiterated its support to the the Nepal government in its efforts to take the Constitution implementation process forward through dialogue and carrying all sections of its society along.
On her part, Bhandari reiterated Nepal's commitment to further strengthen the age-old, close and friendly ties with India in diverse sectors.
She thanked India for its continued support for Nepal's socio-economic development, in particular, India's support in the reconstruction process after the devastating April 2015 earthquake that rocked the Himalayan nation.
"Both the sides expressed satisfaction at the intensive bilateral exchanges in recent months at all levels between the two countries to deepen and strengthen ongoing cooperation in sectors such as trade, economic, investments, water resources, energy cooperation, security, post-earthquake reconstruction efforts, culture, education and people to people ties," the ministry statement said.
"These exchanges reflect the wide canvass of bilateral cooperative agenda for shared prosperity and development of the two peoples."
The two sides also positively assessed the implementation of on-going connectivity and development projects, and expressed satisfaction at the recent initiatives taken towards expediting implementation of various development projects, especially the cross-border connectivity projects such as the development of Terai roads, cross-border rail links, integrated check posts, and cross-border petroleum products pipeline.
"Both the sides reviewed with satisfaction the expanding vistas of bilateral energy cooperation, including development of hydropower projects in Nepal, power trade and development of high-capacity cross-border transmission lines," the statement said.
Bhandari, who is accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Minister of Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat, Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Sita Devi Yadav, Members of Parliament, and senior officials of the Nepal government, is also visiting Gujarat and Odisha during her India trip.
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