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NEPAL, INDIA TIES UNSHAKABLE: PRACHANDA

Ties between Nepal and India are unshakable as the two nations's friendship is based on a solid foundation, Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda said on Wednesday. In his address at the two-day "Dialogue on Nepal and India: Exploring New Vistas in Kathmandu", organised during the visit here of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, he said the two countries, connected by geography, history and culture, share an enduring bond of relations "whose entirety and depth cannot be summed up by official documents and treaties alone".

"Our friendship stands on a solid foundation of amity, which is unshakable," he said. Noting that while there have been "episodes of misunderstanding and friction", Prachanda also said that such "transient episodes should not shake the foundation of our relations; should not and could not corrode the atmosphere of goodwill". "We share not only an open border, but also our aspiration for peace and prosperity," he told the gathering which had people from both countries. Mukherjee is slated to deliver a speech at the concluding session of the dialogue. Prachanda, who has visited India twice after being elected Prime Minister in August, also said that Mukherjee's visit to Nepal has further consolidated bilateral relations, and areas of cooperation between the two countries have been further enhanced. He stressed that Nepal and India need to pursue closer collaboration to capitalise on genetic resources, biodiversity and organic farming in which both countries have tremendous potential.

"If Nepal continues to remain stagnant in the development landscape, if it continues to grapple with a dearth of basic things; we will not be able to successfully navigate the waters of the coming age. Such plight of underdevelopment will not be in the interest of our neighbours as well," he said. On trilateral cooperation with India and China which he is pushing vehemently, Prachanda said Nepal's location in between two growing economies offers a promising future, and they could "forge a successful trilateral partnership" with a "sole focus on economic growth and development" that would be beneficial for the peoples of all the three countries. He also noted that bilateral ties with India are not confined only to formal relations and "people-to-people relations, cultural and civilisational bond constitute the vibrant core of our relations". He called for developing Hindu and Buddhist circuits incorporating the major shrines in both countries, saying it "will provide a powerful boost to our tourism industry" as well as become "a major catalyst to increase the interactions among people, to link our markets, and to explore new vistas in the people-to-people relations".

He also called for creating an environment congenial to increasing the academic collaborations and joint business ventures. Supporting India-initiated sub-regional avenues, such as the BBIN initiative, he said these provide a useful opportunity to collaborate in critical areas of energy, transport, and connectivity, among others. "Our relations are full of potentials and we must capitalise on them, and inject dynamism for mutual benefit. We must engage in dialogue, act in good faith, and nurture respect from each other," he said.

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