Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his talks with his Nepal counterpart Sushil Koirala here on Sunday, was all assurance and cordiality.
“My visit is focussed on development and a new beginning between the two countries,” he told Mr. Koirala at the latter’s office in Singh Durbar in the presence of Indian and Nepali government officials, according to Mr. Koirala’s Foreign Policy Adviser Dinesh Bhattarai. Earlier in the morning, Mr. Koirala had personally greeted him at the airport, a break from protocol.
The Indian Prime Minister assured Mr. Koirala that the ongoing peace process in Nepal was entirely a Nepali matter and should be concluded as per Nepal’s requirements. This is a sensitive subject in Nepal, with parties, cutting across party lines, feeling that India has interfered way too much in politics here.
In the presence of the two Prime Ministers, the officials signed three memoranda of understanding — tourism development in Nepal, Goitre Control Programme in Nepal, and co-operation between the state-controlled television channels Doordarshan and Nepal Television (NTV). They also exchanged terms of reference on the Pancheshwar Development Authority.
Mr. Modi would offer prayers at the Pashupatinath Temple on Monday before meeting President Ram Baran Yadav.
In a repeat from his Bhutan visit, Mr. Modi alighted from his convoy on four occasions to meet people waiting along the sidewalk on his way to Parliament, much to the delight of the crowds and worry of accompanying soldiers of the Nepal Army.
“We have had bad relations for many years because of political instability and political interference,” said Rameshwar Thapa, one of the people cheering the PM’s convoy. “We hope Mr. Modi will change that.”
Mr. Modi’s speech inside Parliament began with a paragraph spoken in Nepali, to cheers from the lawmakers. “I am a friend of your beautiful country, and always wanted to come back again,” he said, referring to his visits decades ago to Nepal as a “wanderer, pilgrim and traveller.”
Nepal Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat tweeted about Mr. Modi’s address, terming it an inspiring speech. “(He) said many things in impressive manner making Nepali people proud.”
Several Opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Prachanda, who has been very critical of India, praised Mr. Modi’s address. “His speech was touching and very inspiring,” said the Maoist chairman.