GM Gyawali held a restricted meeting with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar on Friday. (Photo courtesy: Nepal Embassy in New Delhi)
KATHMANDU, Jan 17: As Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali returned home completing his three-day India visit on Saturday afternoon, foreign relations experts in Kathmandu and New Delhi, have, citing Gyawali's failure to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit, said Nepal-India relations were far from coming back to normal.
Commenting on Gyawali's visit, Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, a former foreign minister of Nepal, wrote on Twitter "It’s a matter of breach of even the basic diplomatic protocol when the Indian Prime Minister does not meet visiting foreign minister of a friendly country like Nepal even though he was formally invited by India for the visit. Why did it happen? Both Nepal and India should ponder."
Gyawali, who visited India from January 14 to 17 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, to attend the sixth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting, failed to hold a meeting with Modi. However, Gyawali met Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh just before his departure to Kathmandu.
Bishnu Rijal, a leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (Dahal-Nepal faction), also pointed at the failure of Gyawali to meet Modi in India.
"The Indian foreign secretary held meetings with our president, prime minister, foreign minister and the opposition party leader when he visited Nepal. But, our foreign minister returned home even without holding a meeting with the Indian prime minister. The meeting should have taken place at least for public consumption," he wrote on Twitter.
Sources at the Nepal Embassy in New Delhi said that their effort to fix a meeting between Foreign Minister Gyawali and Indian PM Modi could not succeed until Gyawali's stay in the Indian capital. They said they had requested the Indian side for a meeting with Modi, and hoped it would be arranged, given that Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had granted meetings to Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Naravane, and spy agency chief Samant Goel when they visited Kathmandu on separate occasions last year. However, efforts by the Nepali side to meet Modi went in vain as the Indian authorities cited Modi's hectic schedule throughout Saturday.
Meanwhile, former Indian ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood has said that Prime Minister Modi’s decision not to meet the Nepali foreign minister was a signal that despite a thaw in ties, all is not well between New Delhi and Kathmandu yet, given Nepal's refusal to reconsider its new map.
“I think the fact that there was no call on the Prime Minister [Modi] during Mr Gyawali’s visit is a message to the Oli government that India is still looking for more signs of flexibility, and that it isn’t all hunky-dory,” Mr. Sood has been quoted by India's The Hindu newspaper as saying.
Gyawali’s visit had been seen as a message that India is willing to deal with the Oli government despite tensions, and even though it is a caretaker government after Oli dissolved parliament and declared fresh elections, the newspaper further wrote.
"New Delhi has also been careful not to comment on the political turmoil the decision caused, and the split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party between Mr Oli’s faction and that led by former Prime Minister Prachanda and Madhav Nepal, in contrast to the active role played by Beijing, who even sent a high-level delegation of the Chinese Communist Party to try and resolve the rift, unsuccessfully," the newspaper commented.