Nepal has extended an invitation to new Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat to visit the country in February, which is expected to be his first foreign trip.
A cabinet meeting recently approved the invitation to Rawat, who assumed office on December 31.
A special function will be organised at the President’s Office to award Rawat the honorary title of army chief of Nepal for his “commendable military prowess and immeasurable contribution to fostering India’s long-standing and friendly ties with Nepal”.
With Nepal and China set to hold their first military exercise in Nepal in the first week of February, Rawat’s visit assumes significance in the context of bilateral strategic and military ties.
The proposed military drill with China, which will focus on counter-terrorism and disaster management, has raised eyebrows in strategic circles in New Delhi, mainly because of the close military ties with Kathmandu.
Nepal Army spokesperson Brig Gen Tara Bahadur Karki told Hindustan Times that Rawat’s proposed visit had been approved recently and the itinerary would be made public soon. Rawat will be conferred the title of honorary Chief of the Army Staff by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Karki said.
It has been a custom between the armies of the two friendly neighbours to confer the title to each other’s army chiefs since 1950 to signify the close military-to-military ties.
Rawat will also hold meetings with his Nepalese counterpart, Gen Rajendra Chhetri, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” and defence minister Bal Krishna Khad.