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Modi fails to ink hydropower deal in Nepal, hailed for rhetoric

by Zhou Shengping

KATHMANDU, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his two-day official visit to Nepal on Monday evening, failing to sigh two much-talked about agreements on the development and sale of hydropower.

These two agreements, the Power Trade Agreement (PTA) and the Power Development Agreement (PDA), were meant to be the main achievements of Modi's visit, the first one by an Indian prime minister in the past 17 years.

The first try to ink the PTA during Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit last month, seen as a curtain raiser to the forthcoming visit of the Indian PM failed because of some contentious clauses in the draft agreement stating 100 percent Indian investment or joint ventures with Indian entities in power generation and transmission.

Nepal's suspicion regarding possible monopoly of India facing power scarcity over Nepal's abundant water resources in the future dominated, mainly causing the delay in pact signing for the second time during Modi's two-day sojourn which, Modi himself wished, " will open a new chapter" in India-Nepal ties.

Despite this disappointment, Modi has spoken and done a lot to warm and win Nepali hearts to take the relations to a new height during his third foreign trip in Nepal in less than 100 days, after he assumed office as the Indian Prime Minister.

During the delegation-level talks held in Kathmandu on Sunday, Modi said India will not interfere with Nepal's internal affairs and all issues will be sorted out mutually and in a friendly way.

The Indian PM won thunderous applause on Sunday from Nepali lawmakers when he mentioned that Buddha was born in Nepal's Lumbini while addressing the Constitution Assembly/Parliament, as the first foreign head of government since the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1990.

This is also a sensitive issue rousing deep passion between the two counties because some quarters of India claimed that Buddha was born in India.

In the speech, considered by the speech-maker as respect to 1.2 billion Indians, Modi encouraged Nepal to become a powerful nation by developing its huge potentials in tourism, herbal medicines, and so on.

The Indian PM even said Nepal can become a developed nation by selling power to India that wants to buy, instead of getting it free.

Besides these beautiful words, India will provide Nepal a grant assistance worth NRs 69 million (about 690,000 U.S. dollars) to supply iodised salt to curb goiter in rural districts.

Furthermore, during the bilateral talks with Nepal's PM Sushil Koirala, his visiting Indian counterpart announced 1-billion-USD soft loan through the Exim Bank of India to help this Himalayan nation to develop infrastructure and energy projects.

During his trip, Modi mentioned a few times that he will come back to Kathmandu to participate in the 18th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit this November, hoping to see tangible progress on PTA and PDA before it.

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