Nepal should restore democracy: Manmohan
JAKARTA: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nepal’s King Gyanendra met formally on Saturday for the first time since the monarch seized power two months ago, with the king describing the talks as “cordial”.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh told him that he must resume dialogue with all political parties to restore multi-party democracy in the Himalayan Kingdom soon.
They met on the sidelines of the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta, where the king is on his first foreign tour since he took power. His takeover was condemned by many nations, including giant neighbour India, for the detention of politicians, suspension of civil liberties and curbs on press freedom.
“We had a very cordial meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh from India,” Gyanendra told reporters after the talks. “We agreed that Nepal needs to tackle the Maoist issue and at the same time also to re-energise (the) political process.”
The 57-year-old Gyanendra had justified his takeover as necessary to crush a Maoist revolt against the monarchy that has left over 11,000 people dead since 1996. Singh declined to comment on the meeting as he left the conference centre where leaders and representatives of 100 countries are attending the summit.
India and Britain suspended arms aid to the mountain kingdom to express their displeasure at the way Gyanendra took power, and Washington has slammed the takeover. Asked when he might lift emergency measures in his impoverished country, Gyanendra said: “In due course.”
Regarding issues discussed with Singh, he said: “We agreed on certain things and we have got assurances” without elaborating.
The king will travel to China on April 24 to attend an Asian economic conference at Boao, in Hainan province, and visit Singapore before returning to Kathmandu on April 29. “We believe that this will help consolidate cordial relations and understandings between Nepal and these nations,” the king said in a statement before leaving on the tour. reuters