We're Live Bangla Thursday, March 30, 2023

Nepal foreign minister’s visit to India likely this month


India’s ministry of external affairs is working with Nepal’s foreign ministry to schedule a visit by Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali later this month, official sources confirmed on Monday.

While India was ambivalent initially about high-level contact with Kathmandu in the middle of the political uncertainty in Nepal, the government seems to have made up its mind on going ahead with the 6th foreign minister-level joint commission meeting after the K P Oli government expressed willingness to carry forward the fresh momentum in ties.

Reaching out last week, Nepal’s ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya had told TOI that the upward trend in bilateral ties was going to continue and that preparations were on even for a visit by Gyawali to India for the joint commission meeting. Gyawali was quoted as saying in Kathmandu a few days later that he was going to visit India in January.

During his visit to Nepal in November, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla had conveyed an invite from foreign minister S Jaishankar to Gyawali for the visit. The joint commission meeting is meant to review progress in bilateral ties with focus on economic partnership, trade and transit connectivity, power and water resources.

Nepal was plunged into a political crisis last month though as Oli dissolved the House of Representatives claiming that the rival faction led by PK Dahal Prachanda in the ruling NCP had made it impossible for his government to work properly. Reports from Kathmandu said on Monday that Dahal was visiting Mumbai for the treatment of his wife in a private hospital.

The fact that the Oli government had worked hard in the past few months to improve ties with India, after the strife over the Kalapani issue, hasn’t been lost on the government even as it, unlike Nepal’s northern neighbour, continues to insist that the fresh political turmoil is an “internal affair” of Nepal.

As Acharya had said, ties had vastly improved with the visit in November by Indian army chief Gen MM Naravane and later Shringla. This was followed by virtual meetings between the commerce and energy ministries. India is currently looking to finalise key projects with Nepal like Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, apart from also planning new economic initiatives.