PM Oli’s visit aims to ‘redefine’ Nepal-India ties

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Apr 2, 2018-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s upcoming visit to India is aimed at redefining and resetting the Nepal-India relations that took a dip after New Delhi imposed a border blockade on Nepal after promulgation of the new constitution in 2015, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said on Sunday.

In a meeting with a select group of journalists, Gyawali said the April 6-8 visit would focus on building trust with the Indian political leadership. He also hinted that no significant deals would be signed during the PM’s visit but as a good gesture, India might offer something to Nepal even as the details were yet to be known.

PM Oli is embarking on a three-day state visit to India, leading a five dozen-strong delegation, in his first foreign tour after taking office in February. Some ministers, officials, businessmen, parliamentarians and media persons will accompany the PM on the occasion.

The primary aim of the visit is said to be to deepen ties, build trust, open up new vistas of cooperation, and to pave a future course of bilateral relations and more economic engagements between Nepal and India.

Unlike during previous visits by Nepal’s prime ministers, officials privy to the developments said, political and constitutional issues of Nepal would not be on the agenda this time.

Minister Gyawali told journalists that some narratives depicting Nepal as a recipient and India as a lender should be changed. He said the economic relationship between the people of Nepal and India is reciprocal. “India is hosting around seven to eight lakh Nepalis and we are also hosting a similar number of Indian citizens. Indians living and working in Nepal are sending home huge sums of money in remittance, the fourth highest figure overall that India receives from across the globe,” the foreign minister said.

Thousands of Nepali youths are serving in the Indian Army while thousands of Nepalis are labouring in various parts of India. “This means we’re contributing a lot to India,” said Gyawali. “Time has come to change the discourse that Nepal is merely a recipient. We have enough bases for redefining and redesigning relations with India in the context of the two nations having strong leadership.”

The prime minister and the foreign minister are holding consultations at various levels in Kathmandu to prepare the agenda for the visit even as no concrete agreements would be signed. Instead, stress would be on trust-building, early completion of India-funded projects in Nepal and preparing the ground for resetting bilateral ties.

With the installation of a powerful government in Kathmandu, the minister said there were signals coming from the highest leadership in New Delhi that India wants to reset its ties with Nepal in view of domestic and external factors.

“We’ve got an impression that India is likely to review its Nepal policy in the changed political context in Nepal post elections,” said Gyawali. “The Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India relations is moving in the right direction and is likely to submit a good report to both sides, likely to be owned up by the two governments.”

On the boundary maps, the minister said Nepal would not sign the strip maps prepared by the two sides in 2007 before the border disputes over Susta and Kalapani are resolved, the minister added.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is preparing to brief Parliament on the agenda of his India visit. According to Bishnu Rimal, chief political advisor to the PM, Oli will address the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Published: 02-04-2018 07:42

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