Prime minister meets former Nepal PM

New Delhi/Kathmandu, July 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday received Nepal's former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at his residence and discussed a wide range of issues, including the ensuing elections for a Constituent Assembly in Nepal, scheduled for November this year.

During the meeting with the Nepali communist leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered all help in conducting the elections.

"Prime Minister Singh said the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in Nepal, scheduled for November 19, should be held within the stipulated time," Nepal's premier news website Ekantipur reported.

Before meeting the Indian prime minister, the Nepali leader had met Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid over lunch at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Nepal and a delegation from his party, Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist, is on a five-day visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India has already announced that it would donate 764 vehicles of different kinds to the Himalayan nation to facilitate polling.

"India wants to see democracy strengthened in Nepal. We are ready to lend any support needed for the CA elections as a good neighbour," the Indian prime minister said.

"I appraised Prime Minister Singh of the latest political situation, and assured him that Nepal is embarking on the path of holding the elections within the stipulated time," Madhav Nepal said in an interview to Ekantitpur, a premier news portal in Nepal.

The Indian prime minister reportedly assured the Nepali delegation of all support, and even said a trip to that country was on the cards. Singh also said visits like the one made by the Nepali delegation would aid the Indian side in taking stock of the situation in that country.

"Such visits help us understand each other better," Singh told the Nepali leader.

It is widely perceived in Kathmandu that India's relations with Nepal are carried on through security and bureaucratic channels -- the political leaderships on both sides appear to have lost contact, even as both sides claim that bilateral relations are "unique" and "special".

Often regarded as an India-locked country (Nepal is surrounded by India on three sides), Nepal attaches great importance to its relations with India, but as India often gets drawn into Nepal's internal affairs, the establishment in India is wary.

India has invited senior leaders from Nepal to New Delhi in a bid to better understand political dynamics in the neighbouring country.

Sushil Koirala, president of Nepali Congress, the grand old party of Nepal, is set to visit India soon.

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