KATHMANDU, Nov. 1:- Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat has expressed the belief that the three-day state visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Nepal beginning tomorrow will create a new basis in the relations between Nepal and India.
The Indian President is visiting Nepal at the invitation of President Bidya Devi Bhandari. The government has accorded high priority to this high-level visit that is taking place in a gap of 18 years.
In an exclusive interview to the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) today, Minister Mahat said that this visit by the Indian President taking place in 18 years will add a new dimension to the bilateral relations.
Terming the Indian President's 'goodwill' visit taking place after a long time as positive, he said Nepal has given high importance to it.
"This visit will build a new base in the relations between the two countries. It is not that a single visit will contribute to fulfilling all objectives. We have reached at this juncture after passing through different phases. I am confident, this visit will help take forward the relations to a new stage by removing the bitterness seen in the past," he added.
He further stated that since it is the visit by a Head of State no joint press releases would be issued and no bilateral agreements and MoUs reached as happens after the visit by the Executive Head.
"We are of the belief that since this visit is mainly focused on promoting the goodwill between the two countries, a high level of confidence building would be achieved and it will create the basis for understanding each other at the highest level and respecting each-other's sentiments. At the same time, this visit will also prepare the outline of President Bidya Devi Bhandari's visit to India," The Minister for Foreign Affairs said.
Asked how he sees the relevance and importance of the visit from the historical and diplomatic viewpoint, he said, "We should see the foreign policy of the country from the diplomatic aspect as such. There is no alternative to seeking solution through diplomatic channel alone if there is any problem. We should basically place our relations with our big neighbours in priority. We should not tie diplomacy with our internal politics. Political parties should debate with one another on internal matters. We might forward our logic but the foreign policy should not be used as a tool to compensate for internal politics. Fundamentally, we have articulated our views on our national interest and needs clearly at the diplomatic table along with rigorous home work."
Minister Mahat further said, "We have put forth our points on such issues clearly when we visited India. I have, in my capacity as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, raised these issues at different programmes in India before the Prime Minister's visit to India. Nepal is not a country with big economic or military power. Ours is the 'power of persuasion'. We present our views backed by logic and basis, and ask for cooperation. I went to India four times after the formation of this government and have put forth my views concretely. It had been a long time since the problem of inundation, the non-implementation of several past agreements and treaties and the problem of distribution of water for irrigation from the Gandak Irrigation Project. These issues have been put on the table. Therefore, we should put forth our views through the diplomatic channel. So, I am confident that we can get results if we put forth our views logically."
Stating that the government has taken President Mukherjee's visit as the foundation stone which will further the bilateral relations, he expressed the conviction that this visit would help do away with the past bitterness in our bilateral relations.
In response to the question as to how far this visit of the Indian President would be able to change the diplomatic ups and downs seen during and after the obstructions at the Nepal-India border last year and at other times towards the positive direction, he said," Solution to problems cannot be found only by talking about what happened in the past. Efforts have been made to bring the problems on the table and seek solution to them on the basis of realistic analysis. We have discussed majority of the issues in the ministerial level meeting. In the past it was like only India brought up the issues for discussion, but now we have put forth many issues before India. This time, India has listened to the issues we have raised intently. Matters of our concern have been taken up seriously. This is a positive thing."
Asked whether this visit of the Indian President could be taken as the harbinger of high-level visits from neighbouring countries including the northern neighbour China, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahat said, "India and China have their own specialities. We should work focusing the kind of relations we have with each country. Only then will we get the results. We have kept our relations especially with our two neighbouring countries in high priority. Other friendly countries have been assisting Nepal, there are various areas and dimensions of relations with these countries too. We have to develop our relations based on this. I have articulated Nepal's needs and priorities in no uncertain terms in my meeting with the Chinese President in the BRICS Summit held in Goa, India. The Chinese President has been invited for a visit to Nepal to promote the bilateral relations between the two countries. He has expressed his commitment to visit Nepal. He is expected to come on a visit here soon. Serious discussions have been held also on the topic of executing the MoUs and agreements signed with China. We will go into action to implement these."