SM Krishna raises issue of anti-India activities with Prachanda

Kathmandu: India's serious concerns over Maoists' growing activities against it, including attacks on its diplomats and threats to joint ventures in Nepal, were on Friday raised by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna during his meeting with the former rebels' chief Prachanda.

At the meeting, which came on the last day of the Indian minister's three-day visit to Nepal, Krishna conveyed New Delhi's strong security concerns.

After their talks, the UCPN-Maoist chief said he told Krishna his party had no anti-India policy and asked New Delhi not to view Maoists in that light.

However, he claimed that anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal were due to New Delhi's "interference" in its internal affairs.

Krishna and Prachanda also discussed Nepal's peace process, Constitution-drafting and army integration.

Prachanda said he told Krishna that he had been trying his best to forge consensus among political parties to accomplish these tasks.

He said their meeting also covered issues like national security and economic ties, with both sides highlighting the need to maintain cordial Indo-Nepal ties.

Krishna later told reporters that he had a "free and productive meeting" with Prachanda and "they exchanged views on the peace process and various other relevant issues."

Prachanda assured him that he would cooperate with India, Krishna said, adding the Maoist chief sought New Delhi's continued support to bring the peace process to a logical conclusion.

He said that he raised the issue of anti-India rhetoric with the Maoist leadership and told Prachanda that it is necessary to respect the sanctity of diplomats.

When Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood recently visited Kailali, Gulmi and some other districts outside Kathmandu to hand over Indian-aided projects in the fields of education, health and drinking water, local Maoist cadres waved black flags, shouted anti-India slogans and tried to disrupt the programmes.

In some places, where various roads and bridges were constructed under Indian assistance, the Maoists defaced the Indian national flag.

Ahead of Krishna's visit that began on Wednesday, Maoists also stormed a meeting of Indian infrastructure company GMR, which is working on a hydropower project in Nepal.

Wrapping up his visit, Krishna said that India wanted to see a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Nepal and voiced confidence that this country's peace process and Constitution- drafting would be completed within the deadline of May 28.