Ending speculation about Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s first foreign trip, deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa said on Wednesday that his first visit would be to India.
Thapa said preparations are underway for the visit, expected to take place in the first half of February.
“The Prime Minister will visit both India and China soon and based on preparations for both visits, I can say his first official foreign trip will start with India,” he told a news conference.
Keeping Nepal’s close ties with India in mind, prime ministers usually make New Delhi their first port of call after assuming office.
Recently there were reports that Oli, perceived to be closer to Beijing than New Delhi, would first visit the northern neighbour to snub India for an ongoing blockade of the India-Nepal border.
The blockade by Madhesi parties, who are pushing for changes in Nepal’s new constitution, has severely curtailed the supply of goods and fuel. New Delhi has denied any role in the blockade, but many in Nepal, including Oli, have blamed India.
During a phone conversation last week, Oli told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi he is “not anti-India” and blamed reports in certain sections of the media for that perceived image.
Thapa said that during Oli’s visit, there will be efforts to strengthen bilateral ties and secure the $2 billion that New Delhi has promised Kathmandu for earthquake reconstruction and infrastructure.