modimdoiNew Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will only travel to Kathmandu when he will leave on Tuesday to attend the SAARC summit in Nepal, despite his wish to visit other parts of the country including Janakpur, the revered Hindu religious site.

“During his last visit to Kathmandu, Prime Minister Modi had expressed a desire to visit other places in Nepal, including Janakpur, Lumbini and Muktinath, to highlight, in particular, the strong civilisational links and unparallelel people-to-people contacts between our two countries. There has been widespread interest in Prime Minister’s schedule in the upcoming visit to Nepal for the SAARC summit.

“Due to Prime Minister’s unavoidable domestic commitments and pre-scheduled travels within the country, he will travel only to Kathmandu to attend the SAARC Summit,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

He was responding to a query on Modi’s visit and his itinerary in Nepal.

He also said the Prime Minister deeply values the special relationship between India and Nepal and will always welcome every occasion to visit Nepal and interact with the leadership and the people of Nepal.

“He looks forward to an early opportunity to visit Janakpur, Lumbini, Muktinath and other places in Nepal,” he further added.

Modi will be leaving India on November 25 to attend the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 26-27.

He was scheduled to visit Janakpur, an ancient city said to be the birthplace of Sita, situated 250 kms south of Kathmandu.

He was also keen to visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and another sacred Hindu pilgrimage site, Muktinath, located in the southern mountainous region.

There were conflicting reports about his visit to Janakpur after local political groups staged rallies and counter-rallies in Janakpur in connection with the visit.

The Unified CPN-Maoist and some Madhesi parties even threatened to establish a parallel organising committee for the visit.

The controversy started after Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam told Parliament that there was no programme about Modi addressing the people of Janakpur during his visit there.