26 Mar 2002
KATHMANDU, March 25:Appearing contented with Indias assurance that it would not allow its land to be used against Nepal, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returned home Monday from the eastern port city of Kolkata, completing his six-day-long goodwill visit to the friendly southern neighbour.
Accompanied by his wife, Dr Arzoo Deuba, members of his Cabinet, high ranking officials and businessmen, Deuba landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) at about 12:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, where he was welcomed by foreign ambassadors, high ranking government officials and the Royal Nepal Army.
"Most important achievement of this visit is that India has assured us that it would not allow its land to be used against Nepal," Deuba told newsmen at a press conference held at the airport. "And the inundation problem (on the Nepali side near Nepal-India border mainly in western Nepal, where India has unilaterally constructed two barrages) will no longer be there."
Deuba described his trip to Kolkata as "very much fruitful" and said that the Chief Minister of West Bengal assured him that his administration would do everything to check the movement of Maoists in the state that borders eastern Nepal. "The Chief Minister has assured me that the Indian state government would strictly control the movement of Nepali terrorists," he added.
Nepali Maoists frequently cross over to West Bengal and other bordering Indian states, and last year a delegation of Nepali leaders including main opposition CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal met top Maoist leader Prachanda a.k.a. Puspa Kamal Dahal in the border town of Siliguri in West Bengal state.
When asked to specify the support that the government of India would extend to Nepal to quell Maoist insurgency, Deuba only said that the concerned authorities of the two countries would deal with the issue. "They have agreed to support, and that is it."
He, however, added that the two countries would exchange information about the cross border movement of the rebels. "We will forward the information about the rebels to them and they will do the same," he said.
Besides helping Nepal operationalise the dry port at Birgunj that would soon be linked with Kolkata port, Deuba said, "India has also given words to soon carry out survey works required to construct the East-West Railway alongside the existent East-West Highway in Nepal." He did not elaborate further.
According to him, the two governments have agreed to sign an agreement to operationalise the dry port at the earliest, and complete the much-delayed Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Pancheshwor Multi-Purpose Project by June. The DPR was to be completed soon after Nepal and India signed the controversial Mahakali Treaty in 1996.
"We have also agreed to conduct more bilateral meetings in future to address the problems of border dispute and review the 1950 Nepal-India Treaty of Peace and Friendship," he said.
Deuba added that the two countries have also agreed to foster cooperation in the field of science and technology. "And they have given words to help Nepal develop its information technology sector."
The Prime Minister had embarked upon his trip to India on March 20, his first after he came to power eight months ago. In New Delhi, Deuba also met Indian President K R Narayanan, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other ministers. He also addressed a gathering of top-ranking Indian businessmen and industrialists.