PM Narendra Modi keen on visiting Nepal: BJP leader

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on visiting Nepal and strengthening India`s ties with the country as part of the new government`s initiative to give importance to SAARC nations, a senior BJP leader said on Friday.

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on visiting Nepal and strengthening India`s ties with the country as part of the new government`s initiative to give importance to SAARC nations, a senior BJP leader said on Friday. "BJP government led by Narendra Modi wants to strengthen ties with the neighbouring countries giving special importance to its relations with the SAARC member states," Vijay Jolly said. Wrapping up his two-day visit to Nepal, Jolly underlined the need for coordination, dialogue and collaboration as well as the opening up trade avenues among the SAARC states that would lead to prosperity of millions of people living in the region. Prime Minister Modi has initiated South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) concept from the very first day of assuming power so as to strengthen friendship among the South Asian countries and expand trade relations, Jolly said. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has given continuity to the thought by visiting neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Bangladesh, he said. Jolly said Swaraj will visit Nepal in two weeks time with a view to further strengthen the ties between the two nations. Prime Minister Modi is very much interested in visiting Nepal, he said in reply to a question. "He wants to pray at Lord Pashupatinath as well as meet leaders of Nepal including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala," Jolly said. The date of the visit may be worked out as soon as Koirala returns home from the US where he had gone for medical treatment. Jolly, who visited the official residence of the Prime Minister at Baluwatar, extended his best wishes for Koirala`s speedy recovery. Responding to a question on Nepal`s conversion from a Hindu state to the secular one, he said, "we are naturally concerned about Nepal`s conversion to a secular state," but we are not in a position to give any advice whether Nepal should re-covert into the Hindu state or not. It is the people of Nepal who should decide whether to remain secular or not, he said. On a question as to what type of federal structure Nepal should adopt, Jolly said, Nepal`s political parties, leadership and the government should decide the matter. "We want to see that Nepal remains united, there should be brotherhood among all the federal units and all the units should be equally developed," he said. Jolly said the Himalayan nation should "create special economic zones in the eastern and western parts of Nepal so that many industries could be established and a large number of people going abroad to seek jobs should be discouraged." Jolly, who was in Kathmandu on a brief visit to attend the 9th general convention of the ruling CPN-UML, also met President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and discussed the current political situation in the country. "We held talks about the political developments in Nepal," Jolly said. "During the meeting I conveyed to him our wishes that Nepal should have a strong and vibrant democracy," he said. Jolly, who arrived in Kathmandu leading a three-member delegation on behalf of the ruling BJP, said "we have come here with the message of goodwill and development from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh." Nepal and India should jointly work out plans for starting a minimum 600 MW power project in the country to tackle the ongoing power shortage facing Nepal, he said. Nepal should get better health services, better education and should move towards rapid industrial development so that the plight of hundreds of thousands of Nepalese workers to foreign countries should be halted, Jolly said. Talking about the attack by the cadres of CPN-UML during their general convention in Kathmandu yesterday, he said it was not directed towards him. There was limited space and a large number of people were trying to get inside the convention?venue which created such kind of situation, he said. Nepal currently receives around 3,000 scholarships annually from India for its students under different schemes and during the forthcoming visit of Modi this would be increased to 5,000, he said.

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