Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (Republica file photo)
KATHMANDU, Aug 21: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is paying a five-day state visit to India from August 23, with the main agenda of bringing the agreements reached between the two countries on various occasions into implementation.
A high-level committee led by Chief Secretary Rajendra Kishor Chhetri is currently busy finalizing the agenda of the Prime Minister Deuba's visit to India in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and other line ministries. Officials involved in the finalization of the agenda said the team is putting focus on the implementation of past deals as per the suggestions received from former prime ministers, foreign ministers and ambassadors and India watchers in Nepal.
Nepal is scheduled to raise issues with India on cluster-wise basis, namely on energy, infrastructure development, trade, agriculture and culture. The two countries are also likely to reach agreements on various other issues of mutual interests between the two countries.
On the energy sector, Prime Minister Deuba will stress on early implementation of Pancheshwar Multi-purpose Project and construction of other major hydropower projects including Arun III and Upper Karnali that Indian companies are undertaking.
Although India pledged IRS 1 billion for the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) during a donors' conference held in Kathmandu in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes, it has yet to provide the amount.
Similarly, Nepal and India are scheduled to reach an agreement on construction of railway linking various bordering cities of Nepal. The Nepali side will also seek Indian assistance in the construction of Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track road, which is being developed by the Nepal Army. "A new agenda of Express Highway is also likely to figure during this visit," said an official involved in preparing the agenda.
Nepal is also scheduled to raise the issue of yawning trade deficit with India, and ask India for trade facilitation for Nepali exports. Nepal has not been able to export much to India as Indian authorities put various non-tariff barriers on Nepali exports, one recent case being ginger from Nepal.
The two countries are set to reach some agreements to promote cultural cooperation between the two countries. Officials said the Indian side has expressed its desire to build U Thant Auditorium in Lumbini and establish sister city relations between various Indian and Nepali cities.
In his earlier visit to India as prime minister, India had agreed to build a Polytechnic institute in the farwestern region and build Tanakpur-Mahendra Nagar highway. Officials said these issues are also likely to figure in the bilateral meeeting between the two prime ministers.
According to Minister for Information and Communications Mohan Bahadur Basnet, Monday's cabinet meeting that endorsed Deuba's India visit decided to hold discussions with India on the damage and losses caused by Indian-built Koshi and Laxmanpur barrages. "India has not provided Rs 500 million committed to local people on the Nepali side of the border during the construction of Koshi barrage. This issue will also be discussed during the visit," Minister Basnet said.
Although India pledged IRS 1 billion for the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) during a donors' conference held in Kathmandu in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes, it has yet to provide the amount. The two countries are likely to seal a deal to this effect during the prime minister's visit to India.
The two countries are also likely to hold discussion on an extradition treaty that India has long sought.
According to a press statement issued by MoFA on Monday, Prime Minister Deuba's entourage will comprise his spouse Dr Arzu Rana Deuba, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara as well as other cabinet colleagues, members of parliament, secretaries and other high-level government officials.
As per the tentative itinerary, Deuba is scheduled to address Indian business community in New Delhi on Wednesday. On Thursday, Deuba will pay separate calls on Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. He will then hold official meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Deuba will also attend a reception hosted in his honor by Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay and hold a separate interaction with the Nepali community during his stay in India. Prime Minister Deuba is scheduled to visit Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Bodh Gaya in Bihar state before flying back home on August 27.