India to assess situation ahead of Nepal polls

Kathmandu, Sep 13 (IANS) At a time when Nepal's political parties are sharply divided over whether to conduct polls in November or not, India is sending its top diplomat to assess the ground reality in the Himalayan republic.

Sujata Singh, who took over as India's foreign secretary Aug 1, is arriving in Kathmandu Saturday on a two-day visit in a bid to nudge this country's political parties to go for the elections given India's commitmment to democracy.

"The visit will provide an opportunity to review and further develop the partnership between the two countries and reiterate support for the expression of democratic aspirations by the people of Nepal," a statement issued by Nepal's foreign ministry said.

According to the statement, Sujata Singh will meet Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav, chairman of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi, Foreign Minister Madhav Ghimire, Chief Election Commisioner Nil Kantha Uprety and top leaders of the major political parties.

The Indian foreign secretary will be accompanied by Joint Secretary (North) Abhay Thakur and other senior officials of India's external affairs ministry.

Sujata Singh will also call on her counterpart, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, and will review India-funded projects in Nepal and other issues pertaining to bilateral relations.

When assuming her office Aug 1, she said that India's immediate neighbours would be her first priority.

According to Depak Dhetal, spokesman of Nepal's foreign ministry, Sujata Singh's visit to Nepal shortly after assuming office shows that India gives priority to its relations with Nepal.

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