No alternative to excellent ties with India: Nepal foreign minister
There is no alternative to excellent bilateral relations between Nepal and India despite some twists and turns in the recent past, Nepalese foreign minister said on Monday, ahead of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s maiden foreign trip to India this week.
Admitting that ties between Nepal and India had reached a historic low during the previous tenure of Oli as the prime minister following the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2015, foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said, “This is an appropriate time to improve and further the relations between the two neighbouring countries.”
“There is no alternative to excellent bilateral relations between Nepal and India despite some twists and turns in the recent past,” he said.
He said Nepal and India share historically close and deep-rooted relations and there are a number of areas in which both the countries can cooperate for mutual benefits.
“As both Nepal and India currently enjoy strong political leadership with popular mandates from people, this provides us a good opportunity to review and improve the bilateral ties,” he said.
“The current Left Alliance government has made economic development and prosperity as its main agenda, which provides an opportunity for further strengthening our relations,” he pointed out.
Gyawali expressed confidence that the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of Nepal and India formed earlier will be able to recommend concrete measures to improve Nepal-India relations.
The term of EPG comprising experts from both the countries is set to expire in June.
On his maiden foreign trip after assuming office in February, Oli will visit India from April 6-8 during which he will hold talks with the top leadership to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.
Oli will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and call on President Ram Nath Kovind and vice -president M Venkaiah Naidu. A high-level delegation will accompany Oli on his state visit to India.
Gyawali said the upcoming India visit by Prime Minister Oli will open new vista in the bilateral relations between Nepal and India.
“The visit is aimed at earning India’s goodwill and trust and further strengthening our bilateral ties. There won’t be any new agreements. We have many pending issues. The visit will focus on taking them into implementation,” Gyawali added.
Highlighting the foreign policy priorities of the new Oli government, the minister said that Nepal seeks to pursue close and mutually beneficial relations with both its immediate neighbours -- India and China.
“We are not in a position to ignore any of the two neighbours,” he added.
“It is good to know that India and China are gradually cooperating with each other in various areas despite their geopolitical and strategic rivalry. We must be able to reap benefits from both the countries,” he pointed.
He, however, said that Nepal will not align with any of the two countries.
He reiterated Nepal’s commitment not to allow any activities inimical to the interests of any of Nepal’s neighbours in its soil.
“Nepal always stands ready to address the legitimate interests and concerns of both India and China in its territory,” he said.
Oli, widely regarded as pro-China, had last month said he wants to “update” relations with India “in keeping with the times” and favours a review of all special provisions of the Indo-Nepal relations, including the long-established practice of Nepalese soldiers serving India’s armed forces.