Kathmandu: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri on Wednesday said that Kathmandu perfectly fits in the ‘neighbourhood first policy’, as propagated by the Indian government in an effort to actively focus on improving and strengthening ties with immediate neighbours.
Prime Minister Modi will be attending the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit which is scheduled to start from tomorrow.
Puri said that this would be the fourth time that Prime Minister Modi would be paying a visit to Nepal, which underlines the close and cordial relations between the two countries.
“We have a neighbourhood first policy and Nepal fits absolutely in that. ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ is our motto and the motto of Nepal’s new government is ‘Samridh Nepal, Sukhi Nepali’ (Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepal). It is very good that Prime Minister Modi is coming again (to Nepal) and we have high-level sets of interactions. For me, it is a testimony to good and close relations and how we are working to strengthen them further, ” the ambassador told ANI.
Delving on Prime Minister Modi’s schedule in Nepal and the fourth edition of the BIMSTEC summit, Puri elucidated, “The summit would start in Kathmandu tomorrow. It is a two-day meeting. The first thing is a joint call and lunch by Nepal President (Bidhya Devi Bhandari).”
He further informed, “After that, an inaugural ceremony will take place and a gala dinner will take place in the evening that will be hosted by Nepal Prime Minister (KP Sharma Oli). In the next day, there will be a retreat and closing ceremony.”
The BIMSTEC is a regional grouping of seven countries – Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal. The fourth edition of the summit would be taking place under the theme, ‘Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region’.
The envoy said that Prime Minister Modi would be meeting with foreign dignitaries at the sidelines of the summit, such as Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Myanmar’s head of state Win Myint, among others.
Terming BIMSTEC as an ‘important region’, Puri added that the area accounted for 20 per cent of global population and USD 3 trillion in GDP (Gross Domestic Product), adding that the regional organisation would play a pivotal role in shaping the countries which look towards the Bay of Bengal region.
Commenting on the engagements during the two-day summit, Puri said, “This regional cooperation can be greatly beneficial to everyone. We are working in key areas such as trade, counter-terrorism, customs facilitation, grid connectivity and so on. India’s participation (in the summit) is very crucial as we are a founder member and an important stakeholder in the entire process.”
Puri further said that the BIMSTEC summit “would chart a way for an organisation which is invigorated and would take things forward.”
The envoy also informed that Prime Minister Modi would be having a bilateral meeting with his Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli, on August 31. On the same day, the Pashupatinath Dharamshala would be inaugurated which has been funded by India and would be handed over to Pashupati area development trust.