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India finalizes deal to export power to Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal -- India and Nepal are finalizing an agreement to provide the energy-starved Himalayan nation with electricity, India's foreign minister said at the end of a three-day official visit Sunday.

Nepal's communist insurgency, which lasted until 2006, and ensuing political instability have hampered the construction of new power plants, and Nepal could not afford to map out an energy strategy on its own.

A joint press released following Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Nepal said the two countries were able to agree on 26 issues including finalizing the power deal.

Under the agreement, India would export electricity to Nepal and help build hydroelectric power plants. Nepal has suffered from major power shortages with consumers facing power cuts up to 12 hours daily because the power plants are able to meet only half the total demand.

No other details on the agreement were made available.

India has a major influence over both the economy and politics in Nepal, and supplies all of Nepal's oil needs and much of its trade.

Swaraj is the highest-level official to visit Nepal since India elected a new government in May.

She left Sunday after a three-day visit during which she met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, President Ram Baran Yadav and led the Indian team at a joint commission meeting in Katmandu.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Katmandu next month.

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