On visit to Kathmandu, foreign secy Vinay Kwatra reviews India-Nepal partnership
Foreign secretaries of the two countries “reviewed the wide-ranging India-Nepal partnership and agreed to further strengthen their economic and development cooperation
NEW DELHI: Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra and Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ discussed cooperation in a range of areas such as energy, trade and connectivity during a meeting in Kathmandu on Monday.
Kwatra, who is on a two-day visit to Nepal at the invitation of his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal, is the first senior Indian official to travel to Kathmandu since Prachanda formed government last December. This is also Kwatra’s first stand-alone visit to Nepal since he became foreign secretary in May last year.
At the meeting with Prachanda, the two sides discussed bilateral cooperation in energy, trade, connectivity, agriculture, education, and culture, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. Kwatra invited Prachanda to visit India at a mutually convenient date.
The Indian embassy in Kathmandu said Kwatra and Prachanda held productive discussions on bilateral issues across different sectors, including economic and development cooperation.
Prachanda has already said his first foreign visit will be to India. People familiar with the matter said the visit is expected to happen only after the election of Nepal’s new President and Vice President on March 9 and 19 respectively.
At an earlier meeting, Kwatra and his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal reviewed “reviewed the wide-ranging India-Nepal partnership”, the Indian embassy said in a tweet. It added, “Both sides agreed to further strengthen their economic and development cooperation for benefit of the two countries and region as a whole.”
Nepal’s foreign ministry said the two foreign secretaries reviewed connectivity projects such as rail links, power transmission lines, bridges and integrated check posts (ICPs), trade and transit issues, and cooperation in power sector, agriculture, education, culture, health and people-to-people ties.
Paudyal thanked the Indian government for supplying fertilisers, easing export restrictions on food grains and delivery of dialysis machines. The two sides discussed the early conclusion of a renewed transit treaty, review of the trade treaty, and convening of the Inter-governmental Committee on Trade (IGC) at an early date, the foreign ministry said.
The two sides also discussed the technical upgrade of cross-border transmission lines and early approval of four proposed transmission line projects under a line of credit.
Paudyal reiterated Nepal’s request for additional air routes and early concurrence for flight operations from Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa to locations on the Indian side.
Kwatra also met President Bidya Devi Bhandari and foreign minister Bimala Rai Paudyal on Monday. During his meeting with Bhandari at Sheetal Niwas, Kwatra conveyed greetings on behalf of President Droupadi Murmu. Kwatra had a “fruitful exchange on strengthening the comprehensive India-Nepal relations” during his meeting with foreign minister Paudyal, the Indian embassy said in another tweet.
The people cited above said matters such as enhanced development assistance for Nepal, an investment-friendly environment, resolving problems in connectivity and bilateral trade figured in the meeting between Kwatra and foreign minister Paudyal.
The external affairs ministry said earlier that Kwatra’s visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and the priority that India attaches to its ties with Nepal under the “Neighbourhood First” policy.
The ministry said cooperation between India and Nepal has strengthened in recent years, with several major infrastructure and cross-border connectivity projects completed with Indian assistance.
Kwatra also met Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML chairman KP Oli on Monday. He is expected to meet more political leaders on Tuesday.