A meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda on the sidelines of a BRICS dinner turned into an impromptu trilateral when Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped by and spent more than 20 minutes with the two leaders.
The incidence raised eyebrows as it is unusual for a scheduled bilateral meeting to go this way. It wasn’t immediately clear why Modi joined the session. Officials familiar with the development said Prachanda was waiting for the Brazilian delegation to move before he could leave the venue and Xi chose to give him company. That is when Modi joined in, said an official on the condition of anonymity.
Prachanda’s son, Prakash Dahal, posted several photographs of the meeting on his Facebook page, which was quickly picked up by the social media. Dahal described the meeting as “coincidental”.
Writing in Nepali, he said, “with the help of right support from these major countries, Nepal’s prosperity is possible”.
India and China compete to grow their influence in Nepal. Wedged between the giant Asian neighbours, the Himalayan nation is of strategic interest to both India and China. Xi was supposed to visit Nepal on his way to the BRICS summit, but the plan was dropped after a regime change in Kathmandu in August saw Prachanda replacing KP Oli, who was regarded as a closer ally of Beijing. After coming to power, Prachanda chose India as the destination for his first foreign visit last month.