April 22, 2018 06:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, April 22: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Nepal on the second week of May signaling "restoration of normalcy" in the relationship between the two countries, reports India's daily The Hindustan Times.
Modi, who visited Nepal twice since assuming power four years ago, is expected to arrive in Kathmandu on May 11, the newspaper said in a report published on Saturday citing four unnamed sources from Nepal and India.
Nepali officials, however, said that the visit is in the plan but declined to confirm the date.
"The date is yet to be fixed but discussions (for the visit) are underway," foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali, who returned after concluding a five-day China visit, told reporters during a press conference held at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Saturday.
The visit is taking place just over a month after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's state visit to India, his maiden overseas visit after becoming prime minister in February.
During the visit, Oli had extended a formal invitation to Modi to visit Nepal. Officials said that Modi had expressed his desire to visit Nepal within 2018.
Analysts say the visit will be a big step forward in cementing ties in Nepal-India relations which are at its lowest since India imposed a five-month blockade following the promulgation of Nepal's new constitution in September 2015.
India, which had expressed reservations over some provisions of the constitution, had merely noted instead of welcoming the historic charter approved by 90 percent of lawmakers in parliament.
Modi first visited Nepal in August 2014, months after he was elected India's prime minister, and his second visit was in November the same year to attend the 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu.