kamal thapa
Nepal Deputy Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Kamal Thapa with Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.IANS

The Nepal government and the Madhesi people, who have imposed a blockade on trade from India in protest against the Himalayan nation's new constitution, have reportedly reached a consensus to end the crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Kamal Thapa said that the Nepal government is working on a three-step political agreement to end the three-month-long trade blockade.

"The consensus which is in a preliminary stage needs a lot of care, support and understanding from all the stakeholders," Thapa told The Hindu in an interview.

He said that under the agreement, the Nepal government has proposed amendments in the new constitution, which was passed on 19 September.

"We had to stop the extremist forces from using Nepal's political platform and that is why this agreement was reached in the interest of the future of Nepal," he said.

The Nepal government is also ready to address the issue of territorial demarcation of the Madhesis and their cultural and political rights. He added that the implementation of demarcation will take three months.

Thapa, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, is in India on a visit to discuss the ongoing Madhesi agitation with the Indian government. He met with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

During the discussion with Swaraj and Doval, Thapa suggested keeping Nepal's internal politics and the Indo-Nepal relationship separate. "We have to de-link the internal developments of Nepal from India-Nepal relationship," The Hindu quoted him as saying.

Nepal wants to end the ongoing crisis as thousands of people affected by the April earthquake in the Himalayan nation are at risk of facing severe hardship in the winter made worse by the trade blockade by India. The UNICEF has warned of risks of death or disease this winter if shortages of drugs, food, fuel, etc, caused by the blockade are not addressed.

"Winter has set in and people are suffering because of the blockade and we feel absolutely certain that we can end the blockade by building greater consensus," Thapa said.

India accounts for about 60% of the total imports in Nepal.

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