Pressurised Prachanda seeks better ties with India
Last Updated: Monday, November 01, 2010, 23:43
  
Kathmandu: Nepal's Maoist leader Prachanda, known for his anti-India rhetoric, now says his party wants to "turn over a new leaf" in ties with New Delhi, following advice from China.

Prachanda, the Chairman of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, who has just returned from Beijing, said that he was advised by Chinese leaders to improve relations with India.

"As the largest party (UCPN-Maoist) of Nepal, they (Chinese) have advised us to improve ties with India," Prachanda told The Kathmandu Post newspaper here.

Prachanda and his Maoist party has demanded the revision of the 1950 Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty and resolving Kalapani and Susta border disputes between the two countries.

"We want to positively and constructively engage with India to address these issues, we want to turn over a new leaf in our relations," he maintained.

"We are in favour of having good relations with China, India and the rest of the world, he underlined.

The 56-year-old former prime minister also denied reports that his party preferred China over India. Prachanda, whose original name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has frequently accused India of "naked interference" in Nepal and dictating to its leaders.

"There is no truth in the rumours about our party's preference of China over India", he told the daily.

Sandwiched between India and China, Nepal has sought to maintain a balance in relations with its two giant neighbours.

"Though there are some issues with India- some are about old treaties and agreements and others are about trade and transit facilities - we need to engage ourselves with Indian leaders, the government, intellectuals and media to clarify ourselves," said Prachanda, who led a decade-long armed struggle against the monarchy before joining the mainstream politics after the 2006 peace process.

Prachanda's remarks came amid a political row in the country over the visit of Maoists PLA commanders to China.

Last week, the Maoist leader paid his fifth visit to the China amid a political crisis over the election of a new prime minister.

"It is true that I had meetings with Chinese leaders during the visit," he told the daily, adding "Chinese leaders have always underlined the need to ensure pace and development in Nepal."

Pointing to China's concern in Nepal, Prachanda said, "If there is peace and stability in Nepal, their security concerns related to Tibet will be addressed."

China has stepped up pressure on Nepal to halt anti-Beijing protests by Tibetan refugees in the country.

Nepal, which supports 'one-China policy' that views Tibet as an integral part of China, has repeatedly assured its giant northern neighbour that it will not allow its territory to be used against the communist nation.

Regarding his recent statement about a tripartite strategic alliance between China, India and Nepal, Prachanda underlined that "as both China and India have been on the path of rapid economic development, Nepal should take benefits from them."

"If Nepal lags behind in development it may affect both countries' interests negatively," the Maoist supreme added.

Pointing to regional partnership like European Union and ASEAN countries, he said, "We can certainly emulate them here."

Prachanda's comments come amid a political crisis over the election of a new prime minister as Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudyal, the sole candidate for the top post, today failed to garner a majority even after the 15th run-off poll in Parliament.

Despite a series of polls in the last four months, the parliament has been unable to elect a new leader, prolonging the leadership crisis in the country. The country has been in political limbo since the June 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal following intense pressure from the Maoists.

The standoff has stalled the country's peace process and delayed the annual budget, bringing the nation on the brink of a financial crisis.

A concerned India has repeatedly underlined the need for the political parties to find a consensus to end the constitutional crisis. India has said it has no favourites and it was for the parties in Nepal to choose a new leader.

PTI


First Published: Monday, November 01, 2010, 23:43


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