Krishna raises with Nepal issue of anti-India activities

Kathmandu: Concerned over the situation in Nepal, India on Thursday raised the issue of activities directed against it by Maoists and sought adequate security for its nationals in this country, including its diplomats.

It also conveyed to the leadership here that it would like to see "early" completion of Nepal`s peace process and resolution of all issues through political consensus in the backdrop of the current stalemate, which has been a matter of concern to New Delhi.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who held extensive talks with the leadership here, expressed India`s commitment to providing all kinds of assistance to Nepal in its transition to a stable, inclusive and multi-party democracy, noting that both countries have common "security concerns".

Apart from being briefed on "internal developments in Nepal and progress made towards completing the peace process and drafting of a new Constitution," Krishna was assured by the Nepalese leadership that they would address all of India`s security concerns and would not allow Nepalese territory to be used for any anti-India activity.

They also said they recognised the "crucial importance of preserving the professional integrity and apolitical nature of Nepal Army" while integrating the Maoist combatants with it in line with the Comprehensive Peace Accord.

Nepal government`s assurance comes in the wake of Maoists` efforts for bulk integration of their Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) combatants into the national army and creation of a separate unit for them as part of the Seven Point Agreement signed between the former rebels and CPN-UML, which is strongly opposed by the Nepali Congress and other democratic parties.

"I conveyed that given the special relations shared by India and Nepal, India has an abiding interest in developments in Nepal and remains committed to providing all assistance that Nepal requires in its transition to a stable, inclusive, multi-party democracy," said the minister, who held talks with President Ram Baran Yadav and Premier Jhala Nath Khanal among others.

During his meetings with the Nepalese leaders, Krishna also raised the issue of security of Indian diplomats and the country`s mission here against the backdrop of incidents targeting Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood and defacing of Indian national flags by Maoists.

When Sood recently visited Kailali, Gulmi and some other districts outside Kathmandu to hand over Indian-aided projects in the fields of education, health and drinking water, local Maoist cadres waved black flags, shouted anti-India slogans and tried to disrupt the programmes.

In some places, where various roads and bridges were constructed under Indian assistance, the Maoists defaced the Indian national flag.

Raising security concerns of Indian joint ventures operating in Nepal, Krishna asked the leadership here to create a favourable atmosphere to attract more joint ventures to boost Nepal`s economic development.

"I conveyed to the Nepalese leadership that Nepal must develop an environment of trust and confidence to attract investment from India" and also asked that "Indian investors, who provided capital and employment opportunities in Nepal should be given all due protections," Krishna told reporters after meeting representatives of some Indian JVs here.

He said he also sought early formalisation of the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement that would help build investors` confidence.

Ahead of Krishna`s three-day visit here that began yesterday, Maoists and fringe left parties had stormed a meeting of Indian infrastructure company GMR, which is working on a hydropower project in Nepal.

There are over 400 Indian Joint Ventures registered in Nepal, with a total investment of USD 811 million, creating direct employment opportunities to over 50,000 people.

Krishna, who would meet Maoist chief Prachanda tomorrow, would also visit Birgunj to lay the foundation stone for construction of an Integrated Check Post and first phase of Terai Fast Track Road being built under Indian assistances.

The Integrated Check Post would cost Rs 86.9 crore and Terai Fast Track has a total outlay of Rs 805 crore.

These projects are aimed at strengthening the cross-border connectivity between India and Nepal to facilitate better people-to-people contacts and economic opportunities for Nepal`s nationals.

India and Nepal have also agreed to discuss outstanding bilateral issues at the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries in New Delhi shortly.

Besides, they have agreed to finalise the dates for the next Home Secretary-level meeting soon.