AsiaIndiaNepalSouthern Asia

PM Modi reaches Nepal Sunday leading 101-member team

Kathmandu, Aug 2 Narendra Modi, accompanied by a 101-member delegation including seven ministers, arrives here Sunday on a two-day visit, making it the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister to this Himalayan nation in 17 years.

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

Nepal is the second neighbouring country Modi is 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, who will also be accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval as well as captains of industry, will be the first foreign leader to address the Nepalese constituent assembly-cum-parliament Sunday.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who was in New Delhi during Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, will receive the Indian prime minister at the Tribhuvan International Airport here.

Modi will hold talks with Koirala Sunday.

On Monday, Modi will pray at the Pashupatinath temple, and later meet President Ram Baran Yadav, who would host a dinner for him.

He would also interact with leaders of the Nepalese business community.

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.

Security agencies from both sides Saturday conducted a three-hour security drill on the routes where Modi will be travelling and at the Hotel Hyatt where he will stay. Three bullet-proof vehicles have already landed in Kathmandu.

The flags of Nepal and India were put up on the major streets of the city.

All preparations related to Modi’s visit have been completed, said Dinesh Bhattaraio, foreign relations adviser to Sushil Koirala.

The hotel has been told to prepare special vegetarian items, including Gujarati food.

Ahead of his visit, Modi tweeted: “Looking forward to visiting Nepal. Nepal and India are time-tested friends & our two nations share a common culture & heritage.”

“I hope to have fruitful discussions with leaders & lawmakers of Nepal that will take India-Nepal relations to even greater heights,” he said in another tweet.

In a tweet in Hindi, Modi said his visit to Nepal was also important as he will be fortunate to pray to Lord Pashupatinath.

Nepal’s Speaker Subash Chandra Nembang has ordered a special tea from Ilam, a place in the country that produces world class green tea.

The Nepal Army conducted aerial surveillance in which Indian commandos also took part.

The media here has been covering the visit extensively. News channels are running talk shows related to the visit.

“I have never seen such a massive coverage in my life. The Modi wave has taken a grip over the Nepali media,” Ramesh Thapa, a 63-year-old businessman from the suburbs of Kathmandu told IANS.

Three hospitals have been kept on stand-by for medical emergencies.

Modi is scheduled to arrive on a special flight at 10.50 a.m. Sunday.

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