General V.K. Singh for early settlement to peace process in the Himalayan nation

Hailing India-Nepal relations as one of ‘great importance', Army Chief General V.K Singh hoped for an early settlement to Nepal's peace process and offered assistance to the Nepal Army.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu at the end of his visit to Nepal on Friday, General Singh said: “We feel that whatever is done by Nepal in its interest is in the interests of India as well. So there is a great amount of consonance of views between the two countries, despite whatever is said by some people.”

He said the largest investment to Nepal came from India. “It supports several projects; and there are deep ‘historic, cultural and religious ties' between the two countries.”

On Nepal's peace process, the Army Chief said: “We hope it settles down. The earlier it is settled, the better. Then, normal activities can be resumed. There is so much potential here in hydropower, tourism, and development.”

An agreement between Nepal's political parties in November states that a maximum of 6500 Maoists would be integrated in a specially created directorate under the Army. The directorate will look after industrial security, development, disaster management and forest protection. It will also include personnel from other security organs.

Asked about his views on the impact of the peace process on the structure of the Nepal Army, with which the Indian Army shares close fraternal relations, General Singh said: “From what I understand, the structure won't change much. Tinkering with the structure will not be in its best interest. It is about integration of the Maoists, and finding the best possible way they can be assimilated and made to work in the democratic way of the Nepal Army.”

India has held up supplies of weapons, ammunition and equipment since 2005 when the then monarch, King Gyanendra, took over absolute power with the military's support. Indicating New Delhi's willingness to resume supplies, General Singh said: “Whenever the Nepal government and the Nepal Army wants it, it will come. It is the decision of the Government of Nepal. We are ready to offer any assistance.”

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