KATHMANDU, May 4: India has proposed Naveen Srivastava as its new ambassador to Nepal, according to multiple diplomatic sources in Kathmandu.
Srivastava, who heads the East Asia division in India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), is succeeding Vinaya Mohan Kwarta, who has already assumed office as the foreign secretary of the Indian government beginning May 1.
Sources said the Nepali side has already received the agreemo (i.e. the document formally seeking Nepal’s concurrence for the posting of Srivastava) from India and is expediting the process to clear it soon so that Srivastava can assume his office in Kathmandu before the scheduled visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal on May 16, which marks Buddha Jayanti.
However, both Kathmandu and New Delhi are yet to make a formal announcement of the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Nepal. Sources said Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to land at the newly-built Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa and go to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha.
On the same day, the Gautam Buddha International Airport is formally coming into operation. Sources said Prime Minister Modi is likely to fly back to New Delhi after attending an event to be organized in Lumbini to mark Buddha Jayanti celebration.
According to Indian media reports, Srivastava has been playing a key role in the diplomatic and military talks with China to tackle the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control that began some two years ago. The selection of a person seen widely as India’s China hand as the new ambassador to Nepal is seen as meaningful as India has taken the growing footprint of China in Nepal as a major strategic challenge.
Srivastava currently heads the division at the Ministry of External Affairs that deals with China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia. Besides leading the Indian side in the meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, Srivastava has participated in the meetings of the Indian and Chinese military commanders to address the standoff at the LAC.