KATHMANDU, AUG 02 –
Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey has said the procedure has been over for the signing of the proposed power trade agreement (PTA) with India during Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit.
Though officials have expressed reservations over excluding the ministry while exchanging the draft with the Indian side, Pandey said at a news conference on Friday that the Cabinet will ratify the PTA by Saturday.
“We have in the final stage of signing the PTA with India,” he said, adding that two other agreements on Indian assistance for goitre control and cooperation between Nepal Television and Doordarshan of India are almost finalised. Officials have indicated that India will increase its assistance significantly in some projects identified by both the sides through the EXIM Bank of India. The bank has pledged US$ 250 million for executing various projects in Nepal.
“The Indian side is expected to announce an increment of aid and soft loans to carry out major infrastructure projects, including some on hydropower,” said a government official, estimating that around US$ 1 billion would be necessary. Modi arrives in Kathmandu on a two-day visit on Sunday morning. Minister Pandey, meanwhile, informed that no Indian minister is in the delegation and bilateral agreements will be signed at the secretary level. He added that Modi will not visit Janakpurdham or Lumbini.
The Indian PM will be accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and senior government officials. The size of the official delegation is 27; with security personnel and media persons the team will have more than 70 members.
Nine officials from each side will attend the delegation-level talks overseen the two prime ministers on Sunday. Modi’s visit would definitely give us an opportunity to work together for the betterment of Saarc,” said Minister Pandey. “We will work hand-in-hand in international forums.” Modi will land on a special flight at 10:50 on Sunday. Prime Minister Koirala, several Nepali ministers and Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae will welcome him at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Modi will receive a 19-gun salute. He will then proceed to Hotel Hyatt where Minister Pandey will call on him to set the tone of the visit. During luncheon, Pandey will brief Modi on the preparations. Then the Indian PM will depart for Singha Durbar for a meeting with PM Koirala and delegation-level talks.
The two premiers are expected to attend a ceremony for the signing of some bilateral agreements. Modi will then leave for Constituent Assembly building in New Baneshwor. There, he will hold brief talks with Speaker Subhas Nembang and address Parliament for 35 minutes. After the address, he will attend a reception hosted by the Indian Ambassador at Hyatt, followed by a banquet hosted by PM Koirala. At 9:30 on Monday, Modi will attend special prayers at Pashupatinath Temple for 45 minutes. He will then leave for Rastrapati Bhawan to meet President Ram Baran Yadav. The meeting will be followed by a luncheon.
Back at Hyatt, top leaders of political parties will meet Modi. A group of Nepali business leaders will meet him shortly after. He will return to Delhi on Monday evening.
Source : The Kathmandu Post