Modi, Oli launch Janakpur-Ayodhya bus link

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Modi, who is in his third visit to Nepal after becoming Indian prime minister in 2014 said at Janakpur, a religious and tourism city in eastern Nepal, that the Himalayan country comes first in India's priority under Neighborhood First Policy. Devotional bhajans of Sita and Ram were played during the 10-minute long prayer performed by Modi at the temple.

After his visit to the temple, Modi launched a bus service between Janakpur-Ayodhya.

"The circuit will pave the way for a strong foundation for economic growth, cultural strength and people-to-people contact between India and Nepal", he added.

Observers say Modi is hoping the visit and the new power plant will help turn things around.

Investment Board Nepal (IBN) recently granted the licence to Satluj Jala Vodyut Nigam Power Development Company, a subsidiary of Indian government-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, to generate power from the Arun-III Hydropower Project, almost 500-km from Kathmandu. Apart from that, the PM will sign several pacts with Nepal. He also explained his visit for the Arab state as a manifestation of his government's commitment to a "neighbour-hood very first" coverage.

Modi told Oli that he was extremely honoured "to be received you the way you welcomed me here". The visits are seen as an attempt to mend the relations between the two countries.

Later, Modi and Oli held one-on-one and delegation-level talks, during which the two sides agreed to resolve outstanding issues before September 19, which marks Nepal's Constitution Day, officials said. But experts say Arun III would be a losing proposition for Nepal because almost 80% electricity generated by this project will be exported to India.

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Since the December elections, India has been working to improve relations with the new government. "India-Nepal ties are historic".

Modi said Nepal and India can benefit if they cooperate and work together for the promotion of five Ts: Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport. "King Janak & King Dashratha not only united Janakpur & Ayodhya but also united India & Nepal". The army also offered him a 21-gun salute. "Today, I'm happy that Nepal is developing rapidly".

Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to hold such a worship ceremony at the temple.

The bus route will connect Janakpur, Goddess Sita's birthplace, to Ayodhya. He also said he had spoken to Modi about the exchange of demonetised Indian currency in Nepal.

Modi flew in to Janakpur straight from Delhi earlier Friday.

# 11: 05 AM: 'Special prayers will be conducted.

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