[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

India's PM in Nepal for hydropower talks

Negotiators work to finalise deal on power trade as Modi continues efforts to improve ties with smaller neighbours.

Last updated: 03 Aug 2014 12:02
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Power cuts occur regularly in Nepal, which is negotiating with India over a hydropower deal [Reuters]

Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, is visiting Nepal to help speed up negotiations on a power trade deal that is at the centre of a new effort to improve ties with its neighbour.

Sunday's visit will be the first bilateral visit to Nepal by an Indian prime minister in 17 years, though Indian leaders have routinely attended regional summits in Kathmandu.

Since his election in May, Modi has sought to rally support among smaller countries in the region that have in recent years turned to China for quick implementation of energy and transport projects.

Negotiators were trying to narrow down differences over the power deal aimed at harnessing Nepal's estimated 42,000MW hydroelectric potential to meet domestic needs and also supply India's energy-starved economy.

Nepal's politicians are at odds over the proposed energy pact.

Opponents say it would give Indian firms a stranglehold over Nepal's energy resources and bar other countries, like China, from investment in the sector.

The Himalayan nation currently has an installed capacity of 600MW as its development has been held back by years of political instability.

'Mutual trust missing'

Al Jazeera's Subina Shrestha, reporting from Kathmandu, said India was perceived as profiting more than its share from joint infrastructure projects.

"What is missing is the mutual trust required by these countries to come up with a deal to buy and sell power," she said.

During the two-day trip, Modi plans to meet politicians across the spectrum, including Maoists who accuse India of meddling in Nepal's internal affairs.


RELATED: Can India's Modi break the ice with Nepal?


In a statement made before his departure, Modi promised greater political engagement with Nepal.

"We will identify steps to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in key sectors, including trade and investment, hydropower, agriculture and agro-processing, environment," he said.

In the run-up to Modi's visit, Nepal's government urged political groups to put aside their differences, saying it was a chance to rebuild the aid-dependent economy and revitalise ties with India.

"Modi is result-oriented and gives priority to economic prosperity. He wants to consolidate ties with Nepal," Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, the Nepalese foreign minister, said.

Nepal is still struggling with the transition to a constitutional republic after the abolition of the monarchy in 2008.

376

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.