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Assuring Nepal that India does not want to interfere in its internal affairs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, first Indian Premier to visit Nepal in 17 years, said on Sunday their border should be a “bridge” and not a barrier even as he announced a $1-billion line of credit to this country.
As India makes efforts to deepen its diplomatic and economic engagement with the neighbours, Modi said he wanted to see Nepal become a developed nation and was ready to work with that country in all its efforts and offered a “HIT” mantra — highways, I-ways and transways — for its development.
Allaying fears of Indian interference in Nepal's affairs, Modi said, “Nepal is a sovereign nation. We have always believed it is not our job to interfere in what you do, but to support you in the path you decide to take.”
Modi, who arrived Kathmandu on a two-day visit, was addressing the Nepalese Constituent Assembly. It is only the second time that a foreign leader was addressing Parliament. Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl was the first to deliver a keynote speech in 1990.
Modi was given a thunderous applause as he began his 45-minute speech telecast live nationally with few sentences in Nepali language just hours after his talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala during which the two sides signed three agreements.
“I have come here with the goodwill and love from one and a quarter billion people of India,” Modi said in Nepali, which prompted members to thump their desks.
Stating that India's relations with Nepal is as old as the Himalayas and the Ganga, Modi said, “Border should be a bridge not a barrier between the two neighbours.”
“India has decided to provide Nepal with NRs 10,000 crore ($1 billion) as concessional Line Of Credit for various development purposes.”
“This amount is separate from the previous assistance that India has provided to Nepal,” Modi said.
Earlier, India had provided $250 million line of credit to Nepal through the Exim Bank of India.
The new grant will be utilised for infrastructure development and energy projects as per Nepal's priority, according to the Nepalese foreign ministry. Proposing a model development formula for Nepal, Modi said, "I want to HIT Nepal,” drawing wide applause from the lawmakers.
Elaborating his strategy, Modi said HIT in his lexicon implies — H for Highways, I for I-ways and T for transways. He said these three combined would pave the way for rapid