Khurshid meets Nepal president

Kathmandu, July 9 (IANS) India Tuesday signed an agreement to donate 764 vehicles to Nepal in order to support poll-related preparations as Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, during a day-long visit here, met Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav and Chairman of the Interim Election Government Khil Raj Regmi besides his counterpart Madhav Ghimire.

"To extend support and cooperation to the elections, I am paying an official and goodwill visit to Nepal. We (India) support the choices made by Nepali people as whatever political system or what kind of constitution they want to set up here," Khurshid told mediapersons on his arrival here.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad and Nepal's Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi signed two separate Letters of Exchange (LoEs) at a function organised at the Nepal Prime Minister's Office after Khurshid's meeting with Chairman of the Interim Election Government Regmi.

According to the LoEs, India will donate 48 vehicles to Nepal's Elections Commission and rest 716 vehicles to Nepal Police and Armed Police Force under the Ministry of Home Affairs. These vehicles will cost a total of IRs.500 million, according to Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Khurshid held separate talks with Nepal's president and Ghimire, one after the other.

"I have come here on a goodwill visit to convey my government's support to the Government of Nepal for the successful conduct of free and fair elections in Nepal in November," he said in his written remarks to the media.

"I will be conveying to them the greetings and best wishes of our leadership and the people of India and will use the opportunity to review the progress in our multifaceted bilateral partnership," he said.

Expressing solidarity towards Nepal's election process, pressing and encouraging Nepali leaders for holding elections and ensuring their participation in the second Constituent Assembly elections in November, Khurshid met five former prime ministers of Nepal -- namely Baburam Bhattarai, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Jhalanath Khanal, Surya Bhadur Thapa and Lokendra Bahadur Chand -- during a luncheon meeting organised by his counterpart Ghimire.

His schedule also included meeting more than a dozen Nepali leaders during a tea reception before wrapping up his Nepal visit.

In the meeting with Chairman Regmi and his counterpart Ghimire, both sides discussed the wide range of bilateral relations like trade facilitation, recurring inundation and floods on both sides of the border, setting up quarantine check posts on the border, issue of countervailing duty imposed by India on some Nepali goods, using and harnessing Nepal's potential in hydro-power, water resources and issue of immigration check points to be set up on both sides of the border, said Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Arjun Bahadur Thapa.

In his talks with Nepali leaders, Khurshid said Nepal was an important partner and reliable friend and India wanted early conclusion of Nepal's political settlement and marching ahead as a democratic and stable nation.

"Indian is strongly committed to working with the people of Nepal for a democratic, stable, peaceful and prosperous Nepal. Our relations with Nepal are, and will continue to be, a matter of the highest priority for India," said Khurshid in a written statement.

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