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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

India to give Rs 100 crore to Nepal for its reconstruction

By M Rama Rao - Reporting from New Delhi

New Delhi, 08 June ( Marking the visit of Prime Minister G P Koirala to New Delhi, India has decided to give Rs. 100 crores to Nepal as budgetary support for its economic reconstruction and political stabilization. India will also provide long term funding for various infrastructural and developmental projects particularly in roads and power sectors.

Officially however there is no word as yet on India resuming military aid which was suspended after King Gyanendra staged his palace coup. But indications are that India will clear the decks for 'non-lethal defence' supplies. This is also what Nepal wants.

Koirala had one hour long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at which the entire gamut of bilateral relations and the situation in the Himalayan Kingdom were reviewed. Singh backed the peace efforts underway in the Himalayan kingdom, noting that Nepal is at 'a historical juncture'. He conveyed India's full support, 'within its means', to Nepal's economic recovery and reconstruction.

Koirala who came to power at the head of an unprecedented people's agitation, told his Indian hosts that his country was facing a 'serious economic' situation. He was assured that India would give 'utmost attention and immediate consideration' to Nepal's short and long term needs.

Koirala thanked government and people of India for their support to the movement for restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal. Singh congratulated Koirala for the success of the democratic movement and paid special tribute to the people of Nepal. He hailed Koirala as a 'towering personality' and as 'the leader of all democratic forces in Nepal and South Asia'.

Details of assistance would be finalized during Koirala's visit, Navtej Sarna, Indian foreign office spokesman told reporters. Asked about resumption of defence supplies stopped in February last year, Sarna said India will consider if Nepal makes a formal request.

On the Maoist issue, Sarna said India supports peace efforts between the Koirala government and Maoist rebels. New Delhi, he said, believes that Maoists must abandon violence and accept the discipline of multi-party democracy to enter the political mainstream.

Excerpts from Sarna’s briefing:

Question : Did the issue of military supplies come up? What is the quantum of economic package requested by Nepal?

Official Spokesperson: I will take up your second question first. Since the requirements have been outlined by the Nepalese side, I don't feel at liberty to share what they have asked for. What I can tell you is that the details of the package are being worked out. There will be short-term measures of an immediate nature as well as long-term measures and these will be addressed in the package. The idea, and this I must stress, is to respond to the needs and priorities of the Government of Nepal. As far as the issue of military supplies is concerned, all I can say at this stage is that if there is any formal request by the Government of Nepal then that will be considered by India.

Question: Was there a formal request?

Official Spokesperson : No

Question: Was there any discussion on hydro projects and water sharing?

Official Spokesperson: There was no discussion on any specific project.

Question: Did the issue of monarchy come up?

Official Spokesperson: I cannot give you a sentence-by-sentence reconstruction of the talks. If you are asking me what is our view about monarchy I can only say that this is an issue which is to be decided by the people of Nepal.

Question: Will the economic package be announced during the visit?

Official Spokesperson: As I said this is being worked out and Prime Minister has said that both short-term and long-term measures are being addressed and all the details that we can hope to finalize at the end of the visit; we will you know at the end of the visit.

Question: During the visit of Mr. Deuba, some Joint Working Groups were established for cooperation in the fields of science and technology etc. What happened to those working groups? Are they being revived?

Official Spokesperson: India and Nepal have a fairly wide-ranging cooperation and there are huge development projects in sectors like infrastructure, health, energy and education. There are 137 small and large projects which are under various stages of implementation. These ongoing projects are going to be followed with renewed vigour. The idea is that Government of Nepal is in need of assistance for political stability and economic recovery and India is committed to that.

Question: (…inaudible…) will the UN be involved? The Nepalis are saying…

Official Spokesperson: These are issues for the Government of Nepal to decide. They are a sovereign government and it is for them to decide what should be the role of the outside parties. The very fact that direct peace negotiations are being held between the political parties and the Maoists shows that the people of Nepal have the ability to face these challenges.

Question: Was the issue of any relationship between the Maoists of Nepal and those of India raised?

Official Spokesperson: As I said I cannot give you a sentence-by-sentence reconstruction of the talks. What I can say is that we support the peace efforts of the Government of Nepal and the Maoists and we believe that Maoists must abandon violence and must accept the discipline of multiparty democracy to enter the mainstream of politics in Nepal.

Question: Did the Prime Minister of Nepal ask for the release of any Maoists in Indian jails?

Official Spokesperson: I do not have anything on that.

Question: When you say that the people of Nepal should themselves decide on the future of monarchy, does that mean there is a shift in our position?

Official Spokesperson: I am giving you the briefing today. There is a particular situation today in Nepal, perhaps most of you know it better than I do. You have been there you have seen the tremendous political changes that have taken place in Nepal. I am giving you a briefing based on developments that have taken place in Nepal and on the fact that you have a Prime Minister and a new Government in place and the fact that the Prime Minister has come here as a representative of the sovereign people of Nepal and as a representative of a multiparty democratic movement.

-Asian Tribune -

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