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Prachanda calls for partnership between India, Nepal, China

Former Nepal prime minister Prachanda was in New Delhi on Monday for the second time since 2008
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First Published: Tue, Apr 30 2013. 12 46 AM IST
A file photo of Prachanda. Photo: Reuters
A file photo of Prachanda. Photo: Reuters
New Delhi: Nepal’s former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the nation’s first Maoist premier, on Monday called for a trilateral partnership involving India and China.
This will not undermine relations between India and Nepal, he said, adding that the Himalayan country was at the crossroads of socio-political transformation.
In New Delhi on Monday for the second time since 2008, when he was elected prime minister, Dahal, also known as ‘Prachanda’ or “the fierce one”, said Nepal needed economic support from both India and China.
He invited Indian investment in infrastructure, agriculture, hydel power and information technology.
Nepal is slated to go to the polls later this year to elect a new parliament that will draft a new constitution following the country’s transition from a kingdom to a republic in 2008.
Dahal’s visit, Indian officials say, is aimed at building friendship and trust between the Unified Communist Party of Nepal chief and the Indian leadership.
Calling India and China “economic giants”, Dahal told a gathering at the Indian Council of World Affairs thinktank that Nepal “cannot and should not remain out of touch of ongoing developments in the vicinity. Having two rapidly growing economies in the neighbourhood it would be unfathomable for Nepal to remain underdeveloped, poor and backward.”
An economically sound and developed Nepal “is not only in the interest of Nepal and Nepali people, it is in the larger interest of both our neighbours, India and China,” Dahal said. “It is obvious that Nepal’s economic development would herald political stability in the country, which in the long run would contribute to ensuring and addressing the security concerns of India and China.”
Dahal was referring to India’s concerns that Nepalese territory could be used by forces and countries inimical to Indian interests.
In December 1999, Islamist militants highjacked an Indian Airlines aircraft originating in Kathmandu and bound for New Delhi and flew it to Kandahar in Afghanistan, which was then run by the Taliban.
In return for the safety of its nationals on board, India released several militants linked to the Islamist insurgency in Kashmir, unrest that India says is stoked by Pakistan.
China, on its part, is worried about Tibetans using Nepal as a route to escape from there to India. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has been living in exile in India since 1959.
Indian officials said Dahal’s proposal for trilateral cooperation among Nepal, China and India needed to be fleshed out. For decades, India has considered Nepal as within its sphere of influence.
One of the officials cited above, declining to be named, said companies from the three countries will have to play
a greater role to ensure the such a three-way partnership works.
India and China share prickly ties mainly due to an unsettled border that dates back to their brief but bitter war in 1962.
India, which backed the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that helped end the 12-year-old civil war in Nepal, supported the government headed by Dahal. But ties between the two soured when Dahal ordered the sacking of then Nepalese army chief Rukmangad Katawal in 2009.
Katawal, who received his military training in India, was reportedly opposed to plans by the Maoists to integrate thousands of its cadres into the Royal Nepalese Army.
The two were on opposite sides during the civil war. Dahal later quit over the issue and blamed India for his resignation.
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First Published: Tue, Apr 30 2013. 12 46 AM IST
More Topics: Nepal | China | Prachanda |