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President Pranab Mukherjee will embark on a three-day state visit to Nepal tomorrow, the first by an Indian Head of State in 18 years, during which he will hold talks with political leadership there besides visiting historical temples of Pashupatinath and Ram Janki. The President’s visit is seen as an extension of “intensive engagement” by India with Nepal, which adopted its democratic Constitution last year, at political and functional levels.
“The President has had a long involvement with the people of Nepal, with the political leaders of Nepal and he has been a person who has played an instrumental role on behalf of India in his different capacities as Defence Minister, as Finance Minister and as External Affairs Minister in the process of democratic evolution within Nepal,” Press Secretary to the President Venu Rajamony had said.
Mukherjee is likely to be received by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
A formal meeting between the two Heads of State has been lined up at the official residence of Bhandari–Shital Niwas.
Bhandari will also host a state banquet in honour of Mukherjee. Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda will also host a dinner in his honour.
“India is giving particular focus on our ongoing development, connectivity and economic projects as well as number of projects under the lines of credit.
“These projects are being reviewed periodically at the highest level to ensure their timely implementation. We are also trying to move forward expeditiously on the post-earthquake reconstruction projects where India has committed USD one billion assistance to Nepal,” Joint Secretary (North) Sudhakar Dalela said while briefing about the visit.
Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and the Prime Minister will also call on Mukherjee.
The leaders “will discuss the full range of issues covering bilateral, regional and international issues and I am sure regional cooperation issue will figure in the talks,” Dalela had said.
The then President K R Narayanan had visited Nepal in 1998.
Two visits have been lined up for Mukherjee to historical temples. He will be visiting Pashupatinath in Kathmandu on November 3 and the next day he will pay beisnace at Janaki temple in Janakpur which has been hotbed of Madhesi community protests.
In Janakpur, a civic reception has been scheduled in his honour where he will interact with local people.
The External Affairs Ministry did not rule out Mukherjee’s meeting with leaders of Madhesi community which is largely of Indian origin.
“Apart from formal engagements…there would be number of opportunities for the Rashtrapati Ji to interact with the political leaders, with the members of civil society at different places and I am sure he will have an opportunity to interact with Madhesi leaders also,” Dalela had said.
On November 3, Mukherjee will be conferred with an honorary degree followed a civic reception in Kathmandu in his honour. The President will also address a seminar of Niti Anusandhan Pratisthan Nepal and India Foundation.
The President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, will also visit Pokhra on the same day where he will interact with ex-servicemen of Indian Army from Gurkha community.
During the visit, the emphasis of the Indian side is to see the implementation of agreements which have already been entered in both sides.
“We have put in place a number of new agreements to promote our cooperation in trade, economic, connectivity, people-to-people connections, tourism and we are trying to implement these agreements and MoUs that we have signed. I think our focus at this stage is to really implement what we have signed,” Dalela had said.