Indian president arrives in Nepal for 3-day visit

AP News
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Posted: Nov 02, 2016 5:34 AM
Indian president arrives in Nepal for 3-day visit

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — India's president arrived in Nepal on Wednesday for a three-day trip that is mostly a goodwill visit and pilgrimage to the Himalayan nation, which saw relations with its giant southern neighbor come under strain last year.

Pranab Mukherje's arrival was marked with a national holiday in Nepal, whose economy and politics are heavily influenced by India. Landlocked Nepal imports most of its fuel, medicine and other vital supplies from India.

Mukherjee will meet with Nepal's president, prime minister and other top officials during his visit. He'll also visit revered Hindu temples in Kathmandu and southern Nepal.

Mukherjee was welcomed at Kathmandu's airport by Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Kishore Pun and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Security was stepped up around Kathmandu, the capital, with thousands of police and army officers guarding the streets.

Relations between Nepal and India strained last year because of ethnic protests in southern Nepal, near the Indian border. Members of the Madhesi ethnic group, which has close ties with India, protested for months and blocked the border, demanding changes in Nepal's new constitution. India supported the border blockade and the Madhesis by restricting exports to Nepal.

The blockade created severe shortages of fuel, medicine and other key supplies for months in Nepal, sparking anti-India anger among most Nepalese.

Mukherjee is scheduled to fly to Janakpur in southern Nepal to pray at the temple where the Hindu goddess Sita was believed to have been born. Janakpur was the center of last year's protests, and security has been stepped in the area.