Ties with Nepal of high priority: Modi

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) Ahead of his two-day visit to Nepal starting on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that India attaches high priority to friendly relations with the Himalayan nation.

 

Stating that he is visiting Nepal at the invitation of its Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Modi said in a pre-departure statement: “This will be my third visit to Nepal as Prime Minister. It reflects the high priority India, and personally I attach to our age-old, close and friendly ties with Nepal.”

 

The Indian Prime Minister’s visit comes soon after the visit of Oli to India last month, his first trip abroad after assuming office in February.

 

“These high-level and regular interactions reflect my government’s commitment to the Neighbourhood First policy, in consonance with the motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’,” Modi said in his statement.

 

“Together, our two countries have completed several bilateral connectivity and development projects in the last few years, and have initiated transformational initiatives for the benefit of our two peoples.”

 

Modi said that he and Oli will have the opportunity to take forward their wide-ranging discussions in New Delhi last month on issues of mutual interest, and to advance our cooperative partnership across diverse sectors.

 

The Indian Prime Minister also said that he will be visiting Janakpur and Muktinath apart from Kathmandu.

 

“Both these places attract a large number of pilgrims every year. They are living testimony to the ancient and strong cultural and religious ties between the peoples of India and Nepal,” he said.

 

“As Nepal enters a new era of consolidating gains of democracy and achieving rapid economic growth and development, India will continue to remain a steadfast partner of Government of Nepal to implement its vision of ‘Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali’.”

 

Modi also said that he is looking forward to meeting the political leaders and friends in Nepal.

 

“I am confident that my visit will further cement our people-centric partnership with Nepal on the basis of mutual benefit, goodwill and understanding.”

 

On Friday, Modi will fly directly to Janakpur from Patna and will be welcomed by Oli at the Ram Janaki Temple. The Indian leader will perform a special ‘puja’ at the temple and then take part in a civil felicitation programme in the Bahra Bigaha area.

 

Modi will later inaugurate the Ramayan Circuit, which is one among the 13 tourist circuits under the “Swadesh Darshan Scheme” of India.

 

From Janakpur, he will fly to Mustang where he will pray at the Muktinath temple. He will then reach Kathmandu, according to the travel itinerary made public by the Nepal government.

 

Nepali Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa said the Indian leader’s visit will be religious and cultural. There will be no political agreements.