Indian foreign secretary’s Nepal visit ends

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Thursday, January 20, 2011

KATHMANDU - Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao made a low-key departure from Nepal Thursday after wrapping up her three-day visit to Nepal.

Rao, the first senior Indian official to resume dialogue with Nepal’s government and major political leaders in the new year, made a departure from the tradition of holding a press conference before her exit.

The measure was taken partly due to her tight schedule and partly due to India seeking to avoid being dragged into any controversy on the eve of the formation of a new government in Nepal.

Thursday’s meetings remained mostly confined to dialogue with Energy Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and the two deputy prime ministers - Bijay Kumar Gachhedar, who also heads the physical planning and works ministry, and Sujata Koirala, who is also foreign minister.

The assessments made in the progress of the bilateral agreements signed between Nepal and India would be discussed again in the first week of February when Rao meets her Nepali counterpart, Madan Bhattarai, in Thimphu at the SAARC foreign secretaries’ enclave, Koirala said.

Rao’s departure comes on the eve of the expiry of the deadline for the formation of an all-party government.

Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav has given the 28 parliamentary parties till Friday to name a new prime minister acceptable to all.

But with the three major parties continuing to stake their claim Thursday, it was unlikely that a consensus government would emerge within the next 24 hours.

Rao had declined to comment on the new government in Nepal, saying it was up to Nepal’s parties to decide and that India wanted peace and prosperity in Nepal.

While government officials said Rao’s visit was positive, the opposition Maoists remained deathly silent.

Rao had met Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Wednesday and broached the subject of Maoists calling India their enemy.

The Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Thursday remained mum on the visit.

The silence could also be due to a raging battle among the two factions in the formerly underground party.

Prachanda crossed swords with his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, which caused the jittery party to cancel its ongoing training programme for its cadres and call an emergency meeting of its central committee to resolve the dispute.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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