Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is set to visit India this month for a meeting with his counterpart S Jaishankar aimed at boosting efforts to restore normalcy to bilateral ties hit by a border row earlier this year.
Gyawali will be the senior-most Nepalese leader to visit India since ties were derailed in May, when Kathmandu issued a new political map that included Indian territories. The map was issued in response to India opening a strategic road to the Lipulekh border region, which is claimed by Nepal.
After months of rancour, Nepal signalled its intention of resetting ties when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reached out to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on telephone on August 15 to exchange greetings on Independence Day.
Back-to-back visits to Nepal by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) head Samant Goel, Indian Army chief General MM Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla had prepared the grounds for Gyawali’s trip to India in the later part of December, people familiar with developments in New Delhi and Kathmandu said on condition of anonymity.
“Foreign minister Gyawali is expected to visit New Delhi to chair a meeting of the India-Nepal joint commission. The dates are yet to be announced,” said one of the people cited above.
During Shringla’s visit to Nepal last month, the two sides underscored the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities and handling the boundary issue under appropriate bilateral mechanisms, while at the same time taking forward cooperation on connectivity and development projects.
The meeting of the joint commission is expected to be preceded by consultations between officials of the two sides on a range of issues, including trade and transit, and water resources.
Prakash Dahal, spokesperson of Nepal’s commerce ministry, was quoted by The Kathmandu Post as saying that the two sides are close to finalising the amendment of the bilateral transit treaty and the agreement on railway services. Nepal is also keen on concessions for its agricultural products and trans-shipment of goods shipped from third countries via India.