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Last Updated : May 11, 2018 02:55 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

PM Modi visits Nepal, aims to reset ties with religious diplomacy

Numerous high-level meetings have been lined up during the Prime Minister’s two-day visit

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will begin his two-day tour of Nepal on Friday, in a bid to reset ties between the two South Asian neighbours.

The prime minister has visited the Himalayan nation twice before — first in August 2014, months after taking office. He is the first foreign leader to address the Nepalese Parliament. The second visit to Nepal was months later in November 2014 for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit.

Religious diplomacy

The two South Asian nations which share cultural ties, will be boosting religious tourism in a bid to improving diplomacy.

PM Modi and Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will be praying at the Janaki Mandir, Muktinath temple, Pashupatinath temple in capital Kathmandu and inaugurating the Ramayana Circuit Bus Route connecting Janakpur (birthplace of Sita) to Ayodhya (birthplace of Lord Ram).

High-level meetings

Numerous high-level meetings have been lined up during the Prime Minister’s two-day visit. PM Modi will be calling on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun on Friday. Nepal’s PM Oli will hold a reception before sitting down for bilateral talks.

On Saturday, PM Modi will hold a series of meetings with leaders from various Nepalese parties.

What is the significance?

Oli was sworn in as the prime minister in February this year after emerging victorious in the Legislative Election.

Interestingly, Oli was among the key played in drafting Nepal’s new secular constitution in 2015 which was not endorsed by India. The clauses on federalism side-lined the Madhesis which led to the community to wage an agitation with India’s support. The developments had led to an unofficial blockade by India against Nepal. The blockade had frozen ties between the two neighbours.

PM Oli, however, visited India in April this year hoping to reset relations.

Sunil Manandhar, former science and technology minister of Nepal said, “Modi’s visit will certainly consolidate Nepal-India bilateral relations,” according to a report by The Times of India.

“The visit is taking place at such an important moment, when a stable government is in place at the Centre with the slogan of attaining economic prosperity and development,” Manandhar added.

Some observers believe that India is seeking rapprochement with Nepal to block the growing presence of China in Himalayan nation.

Observers also suggest that India is taking the religious tourism route with Nepal as the two countries share common culture, unlike China.
First Published on May 11, 2018 11:47 am
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