India’s ties with Nepal are ”unparalleled”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, a day ahead of his visit to Lumbini in the neighbouring country on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.
In a statement, Modi said he was looking forward to meeting Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba after their ”productive” discussions during the latter’s visit to India last month.
The prime minister said his visit to Nepal is intended to further deepen the ”time-honoured” linkages between the two countries, adding both sides will continue to build on the shared understanding to expand ties in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity.
”Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled. The civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship,” Modi said in his departure statement.
”My visit is intended to celebrate and further deepen these time-honoured linkages that have been fostered through centuries and recorded in our long history of inter-mingling,” he said.
The prime minister is paying a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. It will be the prime minister’s fifth visit to Nepal since 2014.
”I look forward to offering prayers at the Mayadevi Temple on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti. I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of millions of Indians to pay reverence at the sacred site of Lord Buddha’s birth,” Modi said.
The two prime ministers will hold talks in Lumbini with a focus on further expanding cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity.
It is learnt that some MoUs on cooperation in cultural and educational sectors are expected to be exchanged between the two countries after the Modi-Deuba talks.
”I also look forward to meeting Prime Minister Deuba again after our productive discussions during his visit to India last month,” Modi said.
”We will continue to build on our shared understanding to expand cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity,” he added.
The prime minister will also participate in the foundation laying ceremony of a centre for Buddhist culture and heritage in Lumbini.
”Apart from visiting the holy Mayadevi Temple, I will be participating in ‘Shilanyas’ ceremony of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone,” Modi said.
The prime minister said he will also be attending celebrations to mark the occasion of Buddha Jayanti being organised by the Government of Nepal.
Lumbini, located in the Terai region of southern Nepal, is considered as one of the holiest places of Buddism, as Lord Buddha was born there.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Friday that Modi’s talks with Deuba will have a comprehensive agenda to further expand cooperation.
On his arrival, Modi will visit Mayadevi temple and attend a special prayer. He will be accompanied by Deuba.
It is learnt that Modi will also be lighting a butter lamp in front of the Ashoka pillar, and water a Bodhi tree which was gifted by him during his visit to Nepal in 2014.
Deuba will host a lunch in honour of Modi and his delegation.
In Lumbini, Modi will also attend the Buddha Jayanti celebration and address a large gathering of people from Nepal and India, including Buddhist scholars and monks.
”I have a feeling that the conversation between the two leaders will have a comprehensive agenda, will cover the entire scope of our discussions,” he said at a media briefing.
Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.
Nepal’s access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India.
The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries.