New Delhi, Aug 2 IANS | 4 months ago

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said he was "excited" about his visit to Nepal that reflects the two nations' "shared heritage of nature, history, culture, spiritualism and religion".

The Indian prime minister will be in Nepal Aug 3-4.

"I am excited about my visit and pleased that I am able to go there within weeks of assuming office as prime minister," Modi said in a pre-departure statement.

Modi will be accompanied by a 101-member delegation that includes seven ministers.

Both countries would discuss a range of bilateral relations and some agreements are likely to be inked, including in the field of hydropower.

"My visit reflects our shared heritage of nature, history, culture, spiritualism and religion. It highlights the high priority that my government attaches to our relations with Nepal and our determination to take our relationship to an entirely new level," he said.

Modi's visit to Nepal will be the first by an Indian prime minister in 17 years, and the second neighbouring country he will be visiting after Bhutan in June.

The last bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister to Nepal was by I.K. Gujral in June 1997. Indian prime ministers have gone to Nepal but as part of multilateral visits.

Modi said he was delighted that Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had graced his swearing-in ceremony, "which demonstrated the solidarity of the people of Nepal with India and our shared commitment to democracy".

"The India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting chaired by our respective foreign ministers also met recently after a long gap of 23 years and reviewed the entire gamut of our bilateral relations and cooperation with a focus on economic relations, trade and connectivity," Modi said.

The prime minister said the visit will give an opportunity for detailed discussion on bilateral ties.

"During my visit, I will have the opportunity to hold detailed discussions with the Nepalese leadership on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. I look forward to working with the leadership of Nepal to forge a new relationship for the new century between our two rapidly transforming countries.

"We will identify steps to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in key sectors, including trade and investment, hydro power, agriculture and agro-processing, environment, tourism, education, culture and sports.

"I will also discuss with the Nepalese leadership and their business leaders how we can harness the full potential of the new digital age to empower and create new opportunities for the youth of the two countries," Modi said.

He said Nepal has made admirable progress in its peace process and political transition towards a multi-party democracy.

"The successful conduct of the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliamentary elections in November 2013 is yet another tribute to the sagacity of the Nepalese leadership and the people of Nepal.

"I am truly grateful to the people and the elected representatives of Nepal for giving me the rare honour of addressing the parliament of Nepal," he said.

Modi said India has been a leading partner of Nepal's socio-economic development.

"We are committed to continuing our support to Nepal in its development efforts. During the visit, we will explore the ways to further strengthen our development cooperation.

"I will also discuss with the Nepalese leadership the steps to further strengthen people-to-people contacts between our countries, and how to connect lives across our open borders more seamlessly, particularly among the youth," the prime minister added.

Modi's visit comes a week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj went to Kathmandu. During her visit, the two countries revived their joint commission after a gap of 23 years.

He also expressed the hope that the India-Nepal relationship will serve as a "model and catalyst" for South Asian partnership for prosperity.

A series of tweets from the prime minister also revealed that he would be taking a boy he has been supporting for years back to his parents.

"...Long back, I met a young, helpless boy named Jeet Bahadur who had no idea about his whereabouts and also did not understand language properly... Inspired by the almighty, I started worrying about his future and soon he developed an interest in studies and also started understanding Gujarati...," Modi said.

Some time back, he managed to find Bahadur's parents and said it was all possible because the boy has "six fingers on his toes".

"I am glad that I will hand over their son to them tomorrow (Sunday)," he added.

(Posted on 02-08-2014)

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