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Nepal’s Deputy PM Kamal Thapa to meet Sushma Swaraj; to discuss ‘border protests’

New Delhi(PTI): Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Kamal Thapa, who is on a three-day visit to India, said he would discuss massive protests in the border areas with the Indian leadership.

Thapa, who is on his first visit abroad, arrived yesterday in the national capital, days after Khadga Prasad Oli took charge as Prime Minister of the country after adoption of a new constitution that has sparked massive protests in the lowlands

Thapa will today be meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discuss issues concerning both the countries.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said, the visit will provide both the countries with an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual concern as well as to review and further strengthen India Nepal relations.

Tension between the South Asian nations has stirred up since Nepal adopted a new constitution on September 20, upsetting southern minority groups who fear being marginalised in a new federal structure.

India had rejected Nepal’s contention that New Delhi has blocked a key border trade point with Kathmandu that had resulted in acute shortage of essential goods. The violent protests have claimed over 40 lives so far. The formal talks between the government and the Joint Madhesi Front (JMF) – the main agitating group – have formally begun in Kathmandu.

The Madhesi community in Nepal’s lowlands, many of whom trace their origins to India, have imposed an economic blockade to oppose the promulgation of the new constitution. They are against the splitting of Nepal into seven provinces. Protesters have blocked thousands of trucks at the border with India, the main supply route into landlocked Nepal, while the road to China is still obstructed by landslides