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Saturday, February 04 2023
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Nepal PM Deuba to visit India in April

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Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is set to embark on a three-day official visit to India starting from April 1.

According to local media reports, Deuba’s trip comes on the heels of an invitation by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, which the Nepali leader has accepted.

The visit will take place shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concludes his three-day Nepal visit on March 27.

As per the existing plan, Deuba will travel to Delhi on April 1, hold talks with Modi and other Indian politicians the next day and return home on April 3, the local media reports said.

This will be Deuba’s first official trip since his appointment as Prime Minister in July last year.

Earlier in January, Deuba was scheduled to travel to India to participate in a business summit in Gujarat. But the trip was cancelled after the summit was postponed in the wake of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deuba and Modi, however, met in Glasgow in November last year on the sidelines of the UN climate conference.

Officials said some agreements between Nepal and India, including on cross-border railway, which have been on the table for a while, are likely.

The Kurtha-Jayanagar railway is on a dry run since the second week of February for the lack of a law to guide the operations. The government, however, on Tuesday reissued the railway ordinance for the operation of the cross-border shuttle.

Officials who are preparing the agenda for Deuba’s visit said the two Prime Ministers are likely to inaugurate the Kurtha-Jayanagar railway which was reconstructed with Indian assistance.

A Memorandum of Understanding on rebuilding around 137 health posts with Indian financial assistance that New Delhi had announced in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake is also likely, they added.

Nepal-India relations had hit a new low during Oli’s tenure after some of his statements.

Rapprochement efforts were made starting with Indian foreign intelligence chief Samant Goel’s visit to Kathmandu, which was followed by the visit of Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali to Delhi.

External Affairs Minister of India S Jaishankar also visited Kathmandu in August 2019 to take part in the fifth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting.

In November 2020, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also arrived in Kathmandu as an introductory visit.

But a political crisis was triggered by an infighting in the then ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led by Oli, who unsuccessfully dissolved Parliament twice and was ultimately ousted from the government in July 2021.

Deuba returned to power with the backing of all anti-Oli forces.

As far as Nepal-India ties are concerned, some irritants continue to remain which Deuba and Modi are likely to discuss during their one-on-one meeting, the officials said.

The former Oli government’s decision to issue a new map of Nepal depicting Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura within the Nepali territory has not gone down well with New Delhi.

India has also built a road via Lipulekh to Mansorvar in Tibet, to which Nepal has taken exception as it is a tri-junction between the three countries.

Nepal has sent a slew of diplomatic notes to India in order to resolve the boundary row but no progress has been made.

All outstanding issues between Nepal and India will be discussed during Deuba’s visit, said Nepali officials.

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