Indian Foreign Secretary Shringla’s visit to Nepal later this month expected to restore bilateral trust

Published On: November 10, 2020 06:00 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

 KATHMANDU, Nov 10: Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will pay an official visit to Nepal from November 26 to 27, an Indian media report said on Tuesday.

The Hindustan Times reported quoting unofficial Indian government sources that Shringla is visiting Nepal later this month for a formal dialogue between the two countries.

The forthcoming visit of the Indian foreign secretary is a sign that New Delhi is willing to go the extra mile to improve bilateral ties that nose-dived earlier this year, the report said.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu also said that the visit is likely to take place later this month.

“We have seen the Indian media reports. However, we are still working out to finalize the exact dates for the visit,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

The visit is expected to pave the way for resolving the border row between the two countries that surfaced after India unilaterally unveiled a political map placing sovereign Nepali territory Kalapani inside Indian borders.

Nepal strongly opposed the Indian move and demanded holding immediate bilateral talks on the issue through two separate diplomatic notes. However, India rebuffed Nepal’s call for holding talks.

In May this year, India inaugurated a strategic link road connecting Dharchula of the Indian State of Uttarakhand and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China via the Lipu Lekh Pass, a Nepali territory which lies in the country's north western frontier with China. This time also, Nepal protested and demanded talks to resolve the issue. However, India did not respond, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miffed with India for its unilateral cartographic assertions, the Nepal government issued a revised political and administrative map of Nepal incorporating Limpiyadhura, Lipu Lekh and Kalapani. India also protested against Nepal's move.

The already-strained ties between Nepal and India further soured after Prime Minister Oli accused India of hatching a conspiracy to topple his government in  June.

Later in July, Prime Minister Oli made a controversial remark on the birthplace of Lord Rama, which further worsened the bilateral ties between the two countries.

Amid frosty bilateral ties, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held a telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on August 15 where the two heads of government agreed to resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue. As per the conversation between Oli and Oli, Indian intelligence chief Samant Goel and Indian Army Chief MM Naravane paid separate visits to Nepal recently to restore normal bilateral ties.

Although the bilateral ties between the two countries marked a new low in the past ten months, the relationship is expected to normalize with the visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Shringla later this month, officials said.

The Indian foreign secretary is scheduled to hold official bilateral talks with his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal, and call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Oli and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali during his sojourn.

“Shringla’s conversations in Nepal are also expected to lead both sides to finalize the schedule for the meeting of the Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee,” the Hindustan Times quoted an official as saying. However, the visit will not be focused only on resolving boundary disputes.

“This is not a single-agenda visit,” a senior Indian diplomat has been quoted in the report as saying, pointing out that the visit could see India committing to help Nepal with coronavirus vaccines once its production begins.

Also, the two sides will discuss the much-talked-about Pancheshwar Multi-purpose Project. Likewise, there will be discussions on the status of the India-funded projects.

The Indian foreign secretary’s visit will also prepare groundwork for the seventh Nepal-India Joint Commission (JC) meeting which is likely to take place next month, officials said. The JC meeting will be co-chaired by the foreign ministers of the two countries.








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