Nepal PM to visit Turkey amid uncertainty over peace process

Nepal`s leaders traditionally make India 1st port of call after taking office.

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal is set to visit Turkey next month to attend a key meeting of Least Developed Countries, amid growing uncertainty over Nepal`s peace process.

Khanal is leaving for Turkey on a five-day official visit, his first foreign tour, according to sources close to the Prime Minister.

It will be break with tradition where Nepalese leaders make New Delhi the first port of call after taking office.

The date for Khanal`s India visit has not yet been fixed, though External Affairs Minister SM Krishna recently reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation.

The Prime Minister’s office has confirmed that Khanal is unlikely to visit India before his visit to Turkey on May 07.

Political analysts do not see any possibility of Khanal visiting India before the May 28 deadline for drafting the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the government has approved `agreemo` of Jayant Prasad whose name was proposed by India as the new ambassador to succeed Rakesh Sood. Sood`s tenure is expiring soon.

President Ram Baran Yadav recently approved the agreemo of Prasad, according to sources at the President’s office.

Khannal`s visit to Turkey comes at a time of political uncertainty gripping the country.

Political parties in the country are deadlocked over some of the key issues of the peace process, including the fate of the former Maoist combatants, amid demands by the ex-rebels for their en masse integration with the security forces.

The parties are yet to reach a consensus on the drafting of a new Constitution to be completed by May 28 deadline.

Maoist chief Prachanda, speaking at a function in southern Nepal`s Chitawan district, has said there was no possibility of drafting the Constitution on time.

He, however, said a report of the Constitution may be prepared by May 28.

Political parties are clearly divided over extending the Constituent Assembly beyond May 28 for the second time. A fresh row has erupted over the government`s plan to introduce the budget for the next fiscal year in May, two months in advance.

Several political parties, including the main opposition Nepali Congress, have protested against the plan.