Nepal Prime Minister in Colombo
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Nepal and current Chairperson of the SAARC, Mr. Surya Bahadur Thapa, will arrive in Colombo today on a three-day official visit to Sri Lanka in connection with the consultation visit of the SAARC member countries. He will be received by Mr. Lal Dharmapriya Gamage, Deputy Minister Assisting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. N. Sikkander, Chief of Protocol, Mr. Sumit Dasanaike, Deputy Chief of Protocol, and other officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Bandaranaike International Airport together with Royal Nepalese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mr. Bala Bahadur Kunwar and other diplomats from the Royal Nepalese Embassy, Colombo.
The entourage of Prime Minister Mr. Thapa consists of Dr. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Ambassador-at-Large, Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya, Foreign Secretary, Mr. Raj Kumar Pandey, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. Rambhakta P.B. Thakur, Chief of Protocol, Mr. Madhuban Prasad Paudel, Under Secretary, Dr. D. B. Karki, Private Doctor to the Prime Minister, and media and security personnel.
Nepal holds the current chairmanship of the SAARC since its Eleventh Summit held in Kathmandu in 2002. The Twelfth Summit of the Heads of States and the Heads of Government of the Association is scheduled to take place in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 4-6 January, 2004.
The visiting Premier is scheduled to call on President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the Presidentís House this afternoon. The President is hosting an Official Luncheon in honour of the visiting Prime Minister.
Prior to the above programme, Mr. Thapa will meet with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees. Following this programme, Foreign Minister Mr. Tyronne Fernando will make a courtesy call on the visiting Prime Minister at hotel Hilton Colombo, where the Prime Minister is staying.
Mr. Surya Bahadur Thapa, a veteran politician of Nepal, was appointed as Prime Minister of Nepal on 4 June, 2003, for the fifth term. He was Chairman of the Council of Ministers (the post that then existed in lieu of that of Prime Minister) from 1964-65 and Prime Minister during 1966-1969, 1979-1983, and 1997-1998. This is his second appointment as the Prime Minister since the restoration of multiparty democratic system in 1990 in the Himalayan Kingdom. In 1997-1998, he had led a coalition government with the support of other two democratic parties when none of the political parties had a clear-cut majority in the 205-member parliament, to be able to form the government.
His current tenure as the nationís Prime Minister is viewed as the most challenging one in his entire political career. The country is faced with a very difficult security situation due to terrorist activities. Since the day of his assuming office, Prime Minister Thapa has been trying to create an atmosphere, which would enable him to steer the country away from this crisis. The Maoists walked out of the peace talks he had initiated with them by offering for the first time a political solution with social and economic reforms. But he is still optimistic that talks can be resumed. He has already commenced the task of implementing the reforms. An ardent champion of womenís empowerment and social equality, Prime Minister Thapa has recently initiated development programmes and policies to uplift women, the deprived, the underprivileged and the disadvantaged down-trodden people under which he has, among other things, offered them special reservations in jobs and education.
This is Prime Ministerís first visit to Sri Lanka. During his stay in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Thapa will also visit Anuradhapura, the historical and archeological city of Sri Lanka. He will be leaving Colombo on 28 November. This visit is expected to further strengthen existing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal.
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