Foreign Minister Gyawali to visit Delhi in mid-December for joint commission meetingThe visit follows three visits from Indian officials in the past one and half months and has the mandate to discuss all outstanding issues between the two countries.
After three back-to-back high-level visits from New Delhi in the last one and half months, it's now Kathmandu’s turn to reciprocate.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali is visiting India to participate in the Sixth Meeting of Nepal-India Joint Commission that is expected to take place on December 15 and 16 in New Delhi, multiple sources told the Post.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during his Nepal visit last week, had handed over the invite to Gyawali on behalf of Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishanker, according to a press statement issued by the Indian side on November 26.
“I don’t know the details about the meeting, but there was a general understanding that Foreign Minister Gyawali will visit India to participate in the joint commission’s meeting,” Rajan Bhattarai, Prime Minister KP Oli’s foreign relation advisor, said on Tuesday.
Another senior Foreign Ministry official said they had given concurrence to the Indian proposal whose formal announcement will be made later through mutual consultation.
Gyawali’s India visit is expected to reset bilateral exchanges between the two neighbours that had stalled due to a bitter boundary dispute and the Covid-19 pandemic,
Gyawali will be the senior most political leader to visit New Delhi after Nepal and India’s relations reached the nadir point in May after the Nepal government issued a new map of the country that placed territories that Nepal claims to be its own and currently occupied by India.
India in response had rejected the new map of Nepal calling it as “ unjustified cartographic assertion” and rejected the “ artificial enlargement” of territory.
The thaw in the ties between the two countries engaged in accusations and counter-accusations was first observed on August 15 when Prime Minister Oli rang up his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the occasion of Independence Day of India.
During the conversation, Prime Minister Oli had reportedly agreed to break the logjam.
Following the talks between the two leaders, it is said that Modi had sent Samant Goel, chief of India’s external spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), to Nepal to mend the ties.
A leader from the ruling Nepal Communist Party said there could be more high-level bilateral visits and exchanges in the coming days. Even prime ministerial level visits could take place, he added.
“During Goel’s visit, the two neighbouring countries had agreed to resume the high-level visits and exchanges. If everything goes according to the plan, there could be high-level visits at the prime ministerial level by the end of March-April next year,” said the leader, who is close to Oli.
Considering the upcoming joint commission meeting, Nepal and India are holding meetings of various mechanisms as well.
Two senior government officials told the Post that ahead of the ministerial meeting, both sides are scheduled to conclude meetings of major mechanisms, including trade, transit, commerce, infrastructure and water resources, at various levels.
Officials preparing the agenda told the Post that Nepal is looking for a huge concession in trade and transit sectors with India on several issues related to trade, commerce, transit, infrastructure and connectivity, among others.
The meeting of the joint commission takes up entire bilateral issues between Nepal and India which is the highest level mechanism to resolve disputes and differences.