HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles today called on Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha at their respective offices and discussed bilateral cooperation, investment and the political situation in Nepal.
During the discussions, Marles, who is also a member of parliament, said he hoped political parties in Nepal would soon agree on a new roadmap towards democracy.
“Australia is looking forward to Nepal finalising its constitution and tackling the complex issues of federal restructure,” a statement issued by Australian Embassy in Nepal quoted Marles. “Nepal has many friends and a growing community of Nepalis in Australia who want to see it achieve lasting peace and prosperity.”
Bhattarai told the Australian leader that efforts were being made to forge consensus on all contested issues of the constitution and the peace process, said an aide to the Prime Minister. Bhattarai is learnt to have requested Marles to help boost Australian investment and encourage tourists to visit Nepal.
Marles said his discussions revolved around Australian aid and support for Nepal. Australia has tripled its assistance to Nepal in the past five years.
In 2012-13, AusAID announced to invest $35 million in education, health, rural livelihoods and governance.
During his meeting with DPM Shrestha, Marles announced that Australia would provide more than 80 Australia Award scholarships to Nepalis over the next four years, and would design a training programme for officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Australian official, who also holds portfolio of a state-minister landed in Kathmandu on Monday, as the first leg of his three-nation tour, including Brunei and South Korea.
On Monday, he held a round table discussion with the high level officials of the Ministries of Finance, Education and Heath and Population.
Besides this, the visiting official visited the Tripadma Higher Secondary School in the Kathmandu, which has been made earthquake resistant as part of an AusAID-supported safe schools programme.
He also visited the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, also supported by AusAID and Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian NGO.