08/20/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Prachanda’s trip to Beijing for Olympic closing ceremony cools relations with India

by Kalpit Parajuli
New Delhi urged new prime minister to visit India first. Kathmandu replies trip is not political but only sports-related.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s new prime minister, Maoist Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, is very likely to attend the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. This has upset India which was the first country to congratulate him for his victory, inviting him to New Delhi.

Tradition dictates that Nepali prime ministers go to India on their first official foreign visit. Prachanda instead said he’ll be in Beijing on 23 August.

This has given India’s main opposition party, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, an opportunity to raise concerns over the seven million Nepalese living in India if the “new government goes against India, the Hindi language and Hinduism in Nepal.”

Maoist leader Mohan Baidhya, also known as Kiran, told AsiaNews that “India tried to stop this visit to China, arguing it was not the right moment to go there so soon. But it is not a political meeting; our prime minister will attend Olympic events and then leave.”

The Nepali government was not represented during the opening ceremony.

Domestically Prachanda’s allies have started to accuse him of keeping his party’s guerrilla force.

In response the new prime minister said that the force was necessary to protect his party and that the previous government had allowed him an escort of 30 guerrillas.

In turn the other parties have said that this undermines the Nepali army.

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