A Friend in Need

In diplomacy, protocol nuances are dead giveaways on bilateral relationships. So when, on June 6, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh walked up to the aerobridge at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to receive the Prime Minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala, the bonhomie was evident. As Manmohan greeted Koirala with a bouquet of flowers and wished him good health, the message was clear: India sees Nepal as a friend and it is not a bully big brother.

For 84-year-old Koirala, the four-day visit to Delhi was his first foreign trip since he took over last month as prime minister, following a popular movement that brought back democracy in Nepal. While it was a trip to thank India for its support in the fight for democracy, the Nepalese Prime Minister sought help from Delhi to tide over the country’s economic crisis. With a growth rate of just over two per cent, Nepal’s economy is in a shambles and the situation has worsened with the country’s empty coffers. Clearly, an urgent economic package from India was on top of Koirala’s wishlist. And India complied with an aid package to its neighbour in need.

“The visit has immense significance. After the end of King Gyanendra’s rule in Nepal, India is committed to strengthening the multiparty democracy and helping in the economic revival of the country,” Anand Sharma, minister of state for external affairs told India Today. During discussions at his 7 Race Course Road residence, Manmohan assured his counterpart that Delhi understood Nepal’s expectations and would work on a package based on its requirements.

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