On ‘first formal visit’, Prachanda may raise trade, security treaty

On ‘first formal visit’, Prachanda may raise trade, security treaty
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First Published: Fri, Sep 12 2008. 10 45 PM IST

New agenda: Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda. Shruti Shrestha / Reuters
New agenda: Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda. Shruti Shrestha / Reuters
Updated: Fri, Sep 12 2008. 10 45 PM IST
Bangalore: Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda makes his first official international visit since taking office last month with a trip to India after saying treaties between the two countries should be reviewed.
Prachanda will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other officials during a four-day trip to New Delhi that begins 14 September, Shreedhar Gautam, director-general of the ministry of information and communications in Nepal, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Kathmandu.
India is Nepal’s biggest trading partner, exporting $1.6 billion (Rs7,328 crore) of goods and importing about $600 million worth in the year to July 2007, according to the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
New agenda: Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda. Shruti Shrestha / Reuters
Prachanda says a 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty with India defining the security and trade ties between the two countries is among the accords that should be revised because it is unequal. He says the treaty is unequal because it restricts Nepal from buying arms and ammunition from any country other than India, said Raj Baral, executive chairman of the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Studies, a non-profit body based in Kathmandu.
Prachanda, whose real name is Puspa Kamal Dahal, heads the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which fought for 10 years to overthrow the monarchy. The party signed a peace accord in 2006, joined the political mainstream and won most seats in this year’s parliamentary elections.
India is willing to review a security and trade treaty with Nepal, Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said on 30 April. “We will be happy to work with Nepal to that aim.”
Nepal will not “rush” to re-negotiate the 1950 treaty, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based research body, said in a telephone interview.
He said points on the agenda in India will include “sharing of water resources and control of breaches of the Kosi River”, which burst a dam on 18 August, flooding Bihar’s Supaul district 7km downstream in India. Floodwaters have killed at least 90 people in the state.
During election rallies in April, Prachanda promised the people that all treaties with India will be reviewed, Yagya Prasad Adhikari, executive director of the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, said from Kathmandu. “That is the party’s most important agenda,” Adhikari said.
The Maoists traditionally viewed India as “expansionist and colonialist” and the lower cadres remain “against India”, he said.
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First Published: Fri, Sep 12 2008. 10 45 PM IST