Sushma Swaraj meets Nepal PM ahead of his visit to India | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Sushma Swaraj meets Nepal PM ahead of his visit to India

The external affairs minister’s visit is being seen as part of India’s diplomatic outreach to Nepal against the backdrop of the tense India-China standoff at Doklam.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2017 22:15 IST
HT Correspondent
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in Kathmandu on August 10, 2017.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in Kathmandu on August 10, 2017.(PTI)

Visiting external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday met Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba ahead of his trip to New Delhi and discussed wide range of bilateral issues.

Swaraj arrived in Kathmandu earlier in the day to participate in BIMSTEC ministerial meeting, which she will address on Friday. Her visit is being seen as part of India’s diplomatic outreach to Nepal against the backdrop of the tense India-China standoff at Doklam.

There was no official word on whether Swaraj raised the Doklam issue with Deuba. However, it is believed that the matter would have figured in the talks as Chinese vice premier Wang Yang is set to visit Kathmandu next week.

Swaraj, visiting Nepal for the first time since Deuba was sworn-in in June, discussed an “expanded bilateral agenda reflecting the updated national priorities of Nepal”, said a statement from the Indian embassy. Progress in reconstruction activities and cooperation in hydropower was also discussed. Both sides agreed on the possibility of cooperation in infrastructure, connectivity and energy.

According to Dinesh Bhattarai, foreign relations adviser to Deuba, all pertinent issues were discussed in the meeting, ranging from the latest political developments in Nepal to India’s developmental assistance to Nepal and the status of India-funded projects.

The meeting was mainly focused on Deuba’s visit to India beginning on August 23, he said. Swaraj, according to Bhattarai, told Deuba that India is all set to welcome him.

“ The meeting was mainly focused on PM’s upcoming India visit and how both sides can optimise the opportunity,” he said.

After meeting Deuba, Swaraj called on the President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, and the two leaders discussed ways to enhance cultural linkages and people-to-people contacts.

Relations between India and Nepal were dented by a five-month economic blockade at the border that ended last year, but since then, the ties have improved. Dueba, through his visit to New Delhi, aims to further consolidate ties and will discuss pending Indian ventures in Nepal, including energy and infrastructure projects and cross-border connectivity.