NEW DEHLI: India pledged on Saturday to upgrade road and cross-border rail links with Nepal and develop inland waterways to provide sea connectivity to the landlocked Himalayan nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would also help Nepal in the field of agriculture through organic farming, soil testing and education in farming.

Modi also said both sides would like to jointly start a new rail link connecting Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, with India.

Khadga Prasad Oli, who recently took over as Nepal’s prime minister, is on a three-day visit to India. He promised to build a strong edifice of trust with his much larger neighbor.

“We need support and cooperation of friends. Our future lies in expansion of economic engagement and bilateral trade,” he said in a statement.

India’s main worry is that Nepal may now lean more toward China as Oli heads a government of communist parties. But India surrounds Nepal on three sides and provides oil and other goods to the country. India extended a $1 billion credit line to Nepal for infrastructure development in 2015.

On Friday, Oli told Indian business leaders that Nepal needs massive investment in every sector.

“We have enacted laws and policies on foreign investment, public-private partnerships, industrial enterprises, banking and intellectual property,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2018

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