Nepal PM to visit India from August 23 | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Nepal PM to visit India from August 23

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur is set to visit India at a time when New Delhi and Beijing have been in touch with Kathmandu against the backdrop of the Doklam standoff.

world Updated: Aug 07, 2017 22:03 IST
HT Correspondent
File photo of Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba after his swearing-in ceremony at the presidential building in Kathmandu on June 7, 2017.
File photo of Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba after his swearing-in ceremony at the presidential building in Kathmandu on June 7, 2017. (Reuters)

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will begin a five-day state visit to India on August 23, his first foreign trip after being elected to the post two months ago.

The visit, announced by the foreign ministry on Monday, comes against the backdrop of a nearly two-month military standoff between India and China. China has been making concerted efforts to woo Nepal and vice premier Wang Yang is scheduled to visit Kathmandu on August 14.

Nepal’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara told a news conference that preparations are underway for Deuba’s visit and to set the agenda. Besides holding political talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and top leaders from ruling and opposition parties in New Delhi on August 24, Deuba will visit Bodh Gaya in Bihar and the Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh.

“We are working for some concrete outcomes during the visit,” Mahara said.

Mahara also said that Nepal wants a peaceful resolution of the military standoff between India and China. “Nepal does not want to be dragged into the boundary dispute between India and China,” he said. “Both of our big neighbours should maintain cordial relations through peaceful diplomacy and dialogue.”

He added, “We do not support to any of our neighbours in this case.”

Indian and Chinese diplomats are regularly meeting Nepali officials and diplomats in Kathmandu, New Delhi and Beijing to get their support, but Nepal has been maintaining an “equidistance” on the issue.

“We do not support any outcome that comes out of war,” Mahara said, adding that there was no pressure on Nepal from India or China.

“We have seen some media reports that Nepal is being dragged or (has) tilted to one side, which is wrong,” he said. He unveiled an action plan of the foreign ministry, which stated that Nepal will strengthen and widen its foreign policy towards both its neighbours and push for a trilateral partnership with India and China.

Officials said further discussions on Deuba’s visit will be held after the conclusion of the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting to be held in Kathmandu on Friday. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj‘s visit to Kathmandu on Thursday is expected to set the tone of Deuba’s visit, they said.

The officials also indicated that Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar is likely to travel to Nepal, probably after the visit of Wang Yang on August 14. Wang is leading a big team to Nepal, demonstrating Beijing’s efforts to woo Nepal amid the rivalry with India and the Doklam standoff.

The officials added they expected a wide range of bilateral issues to be discussed during the visit of Deuba, who had already made three officials trips to India in 1996, 2004 and 2005.

Some of the key issues are execution of the decade-old Mahakali Treaty, a memorandum of understanding on reconstruction projects in Nepal, expediting India-funded projects and several cross-border connectivity projects.