Remarks by The Rt. Hon’ble K. P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, at the joint media briefing with His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Kathmandu, 11 May 2018
Your Excellency Prime Minister Modiji,
Distinguished media persons,
A very warm welcome to you, dear Prime Minister Modiji, on your State Visit to Nepal. Thank you for accepting our invitation. We are pleased to welcome the Prime Minister from a close, friendly neighbor.
The people of Nepal join me in extending warm greetings to you. This is your third visit to Nepal. We have fond memories of your previous two visits.
Extensive and deep-rooted Nepal-India relations deserve regular exchange of visits at higher levels. We will continue this tradition in the interest of our two countries and peoples in the future.
We have met here in Kathmandu in about a month’s time since we met in New Delhi. I fondly recall our meeting last month and extensive discussions and exchange of views that we had on various aspects of Nepal-India relations in an open and frank manner.
Prime Minister Modiji and I have just concluded bilateral discussions on the entire gamut of our relationship in an atmosphere of warmth and cordiality that characterizes the deep friendship and understanding between our two countries.
We reiterated our firm commitment to take our relations forward on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and benefit. Relations between neighbours are different from that of others. Neihbourhood constitutes top priority in our foreign policy.
I conveyed to Prime Minister Modiji our strong desire to see our relations mirroring the 21st century realities. I believe that the EPG-NIR’s recommendations would be important for updating our relations commensurate with the changed context.
Our desire is to create a strong edifice of relationship underpinned by mutual trust so that it is not shaken by any occasional or intermittent differences that are natural between neighbours.
Our two countries are interdependent in many ways. Hence, peace, stability and prosperity in one contribute to the achievement and maintenance of the same in the other.
Building on the outcome of our last meeting in New Delhi, we agreed to take effective measures for the implementation of all agreements and understandings reached in the past. We also agreed to take concrete measures to realize the benefits of new partnership for agriculture and connectivity by rail links and inland waterways. We have agreed to address all matters by September 19 on our Constitution Day or the National Day. To this effect, two foreign secretaries will work.
We agreed that the Agriculture Ministers of our two countries will meet soon to concretize priority areas and develop a work plan for implementation including in agricultural research and development, education, training and scholarship, and collaboration between our relevant institutions. We will expeditiously work for launching pilot projects on organic farming and soil health monitoring.
We both underlined that an early finalization of the DPR of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project is essential to gain mutual benefits in the areas of energy, irrigation and flood control. The team of Experts/Officials will meet soon for this purpose.
Just a while ago, Modiji and I jointly laid the foundation stone of 900 MW Arun-III hydropower project here. We hope that the operationalization of the project would help enhance cooperation in the generation and trade of power between the two countries. In this context our attention needs to be focused on the full implementation of the Power Trade Agreement (PTA) signed between the two countries. I appreciate India’s initiatives to revise the Guidelines/Regulations on Cross Border Trade of Electricity in consultation with stakeholders.
Our two sides will continue to engage in studying the matters concerning the Energy Banking mode of electricity transaction. Our agencies will expeditiously study and suggest modalities for the New Butwal – Gorakhpur (New) 400 kV Transmission Line and Nepali portion of which would be implemented by the Government of Nepal from its own resources.
Each year a large part of Nepal’s Terai region faces the problem of inundation. In view of the impending monsoon season and considering the past agreement between our two sides, both our sides will immediately send a joint team to the inundation prone areas to take appropriate measures to address this problem.
Trade and transit are vital components of Nepal-India bilateral relations and both of us underscored their importance. India is our largest trading partner. However, the growing trade deficit of Nepal with India has been a matter of serious concern for us. Modiji and I took note of the outcome of the Commerce Secretary level meeting held last month in Kathmandu to jointly initiate a comprehensive review of the existing trade, transit and rail services treaties/agreements. I believe that India has both the capacity and willingness to address our genuine concern.
I requested Modiji to facilitate the exchange of demonetized currency notes held in the Nepali banking system and by general public at the earliest.
We agreed that the two transit facilitation related draft Letters of Exchange – one on bulk cargo and the other on Rail Services Agreement amendment would be finalized soon.
Considering the role of connectivity as a key enabler for development, we discussed the ways to enhance connectivity for our mutual benefit. We expressed satisfaction on the operationalization of the ICP in Birgunj and agreed to expedite progress on three other ICPs. The completion of the Hulaki road projects would receive added focus.
For the new electrified rail line to be built with the financial support of India, our respective agencies will carry out preparatory survey work at the earliest and finalize the implementation and funding modalities. In order to develop inland waterways for the movement of cargo, we shared the views that early start of the work is required. India will send its expert team soon for further study to implement the project.
I am fascinated by Modiji’s vision of HIT (highways, information ways and transmission ways). Two more dimensions to this would be pertinent: waterways and airways. As also discussed during my recent visit to India, I am expecting positive decision from India soon on our request for providing of four additional air entry routes to ease air traffic.
I am happy to note that the Indian side is preparing DPR for the motorable bridge over Mahakali River to connect Darchula and the construction work is expected to commence after the monsoon season. A joint survey is also on the card to prepare a detailed report regarding connectivity of the four-lane motorable bridge over Mahakali River for its connectivity with National Highway-9 in India.
I take this opportunity to express thanks to you Excellency Modiji personally and the Government of India for the support extended to us in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of April 2015. Nepali agencies are actively involved in the implementation of the reconstruction projects with the support of India, both under grant and loan.
Earlier today, Modiji and I jointly launched the Nepal-India Ramayana Circuit in the premises of the Janaki Temple in Janakpur. This will connect Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, the Ayodhya and other sites associated with the epic Ramayana. We also jointly flagged off the first bus service from Janakpur for Ayodhya.
I am delighted to mention that Modiji is also visiting Muktinath tomorrow. I am sure this will be inscribed in history as the first one by a foreign head of government to that holy abode of peace.
Both of us agreed that this visit of Prime Minister Modiji has further strengthened the age-old friendly relations between our two countries and has generated a fresh impetus to our bilateral cooperation and partnership.
We attach high importance to our relations with India and look forward to continued cooperation in the coming days for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples. In this respect, I look forward to working closely with Modiji in the days ahead.
Thank you very much.