National

Gyawali: Govt for balanced relations with India, China

- MUKUL HUMAGAIN, KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Mar 18, 2018-

Newly appointed foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali has said that the new government would not want to cozy up to one of Nepal’s closest neighbours against another, emphasizing that maintaining balanced relations with India and China will be the cornerstone of the new government’s foreign policy framework.

In an exclusive interview with the Post after assuming office, Gyawali on Saturday said: “Nepal can neither find an alternative to its centuries-old relations with India nor can isolate itself from China and its prosperity.” 

“Nepal’s only aim is to extract maximum benefit from both the neighbours. Neither of our neighbours should be suspicious of our relations with them.”

The foreign minister said playing one neighbour against another would have no meaning and relevance in the changed context.

“We want to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the both in the changed context,” Gyawali said, adding that Nepal needs support from both the countries.

Asked how the Oli government would handle its relations with the Indian establishment, Gyawali, who had visited India just before constitution promulgation in September, 2015 as Oli’s emissary, said both the countries wanted to move forward by burying the hatchet. “What happened in bilateral relations after constitution promulgation was like a nightmare. We want to forget that and move ahead,” he added.

A close aide to PM Oli, Gyawali had met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and then-Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar in September 2015 to apprise the Indian establishment of the constitution drafting process and sought India’s backing for the same.

A series of events after constitution promulgation including the border blockade, according to Gyawali, did not benefit New Delhi, which the southern neighbour had also realised.

Gyawali said that the “recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Nepal-India Relations” would serve as the major basis for the new government to reset its relations with India.

The EPG, formed to provide suggestions to both the governments on mutual relations in the changed regional and global contexts, will submit its report by July if there is no extension of its tenure. The new government would take initiatives to implement the Group’s report. “Once the EPG submits its report, we’ll talk to India for its speedy implementation,” said the foreign minister.

Railway project, opening new border points with China, north-south highways and cross-border power transmission would be the top priorities of the new government in advancing relations with China, according to Gyawali.

The government would expedite implementation of the agreements signed with China in 2015. “Previous governments should have implemented those agreements but that did not happen,” he remarked.

The new government would finalise the protocol of trade and transit agreement with China soon. At a time when the Chinese side has asked Nepal to select projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, the foreign minister said the government would respond soon.

Preparations were being made to schedule high-level visits between Nepal and both its neighbours. Gyawali expressed his hope that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Nepal this year.

Foreign min says

  • EPG’s recommendations will serve as major basis to reset bilateral ties with India
  • Government to finalise protocol of trade and transit agreement with China soon
  • Preparations going on for high-level visits between Nepal-India and Nepal-China

(A full-text interview will be published on Monday)

Published: 18-03-2018 08:16

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