Pitching Nepal as a “dynamic bridge” between India and China, Prime Minister Prachanda floated a proposal for trilateral strategic ties to Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Nepalese media reported on Sunday. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ during the trilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit yesterday expressed Nepal’s desire to act as a “dynamic bridge” between the two Asian giants and to reap the benefit of playing such a role.
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The report about the “trilateral meeeting” was reported by Nepal’s The Himalayan Times along with a photo of the leaders.
India, meanwhile, said both Xi and Prachanda were waiting in the leaders’ lounge when Prime Minister Modi also reached there as he had to go with all the BRICS leaders for an informal dinner, turning the bilateral into a ‘chance trilateral’.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup in Goa termed the episode “entirely coincidental”.
“It was just entirely coincidental that in the leaders’ lounge, all three were present at the same time. The bilateral meeting between China and Nepal had already ended. So, I don’t know on what basis people are calling it a trilateral meeting. It is perfectly normal in a multilateral setting for leaders to be together in a lounge or on the sidelines or somewhere else,” Swarup said.
The Himalayan Times story, on its part, cited a statement issued by Prachanda’s secretariat on the Prime Minister’s personal website and said he “floated a proposal for trilateral strategic partnership among the three countries”.
Modi and Xi acknowledged as ‘significant’ and said they were positive towards it, the report said.
The Nepalese premier, who reached India to attend the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit on Saturday, first held a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi which lasted for around 20 minutes and later Modi joined them. The leaders discussed issues of common interests, Prachanda’s personal secretary Prakash Dahal, who is also his son, was quoted as saying.
According to the statement, Prachanda said during the meeting that “we (Nepal) are located between two giant countries. We want to become a dynamic bridge between the two countries and reap the benefit”.
“During the meeting, I put forth the issue of strategic partnership with emphasis,” Dahal said, adding that “the Indian Prime Minister and Chinese President said Nepal’s proposal on strategic partnership is significant and they agreed to it”.
Noting that Buddha, Pashupatinath and Janaki connected Nepal, India and China, Prachanda was quoted as saying that Nepal can play a role of a bridge between India and China and help them build good relationship at present also.
He further said Nepal was inching towards the goals of development and wanted to establish a balanced, friendly and strategic relationship with both the neighbours, the report said.
The Nepalese premier also expressed his hope that the trilateral meeting could play a significant role in setting up an “epochal relationship” between Nepal, India and China, it said.
In response, Chinese President Xi was quoted as saying that the size of the country did not bear much significance and Nepal could become a bridge between India and China.
He also praised Nepal’s role in keeping an equidistant relationship with China and India while expressing belief that the relations between the three countries would strengthen in the future.
Noting that the three countries shared “geographical, emotional and cultural friendship, Indian Prime Minister Modi said India was positive towards Nepal’s proposal on trilateral partnership,” the report said.
Prachanda’s spouse Sita Dahal was also present at the meeting.