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Foreign Secretary Kwatra holds talks in Kathmandu to reboot India-Nepal ties

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra calls on Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday

KATHMANDU: Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra began his two-day official visit to Nepal on Monday with a string of conversations with his Nepali counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal and foreign minister Bimala Rai Paudyal.

During the delegation-level meeting held at Hotel Yak and Yeti in the Nepali capital, the two sides reviewed the wide-ranging India-Nepal partnership, according to Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

“Both sides agreed to further strengthen their economic and development cooperation for benefit of the two countries and region as a whole,” the embassy tweeted.

Meanwhile, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Paudyal and Kwatra reviewed various aspects of Nepal-India relations covering connectivity, trade and transit, power sector cooperation, agriculture, education, culture, health sector and people to people relations, among others.

Kwatra’s high-level engagements in Nepal comes at a time when the two friendly neighbours have achieved significant progress in the field of bilateral development cooperation. The two sides have focused heavily on energy, leveraging Nepal’s huge hydroelectric potential.

Kwatra called on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal at their respective offices in Kathmandu.

According to Tika Prasad Dhakal, a press aide to Bhandari, the president highly spoke of age-old friendly ties between Nepal and India while underscoring the need for further deepening it. On the occasion, Kwatra conveyed greetings on behalf of President of India Droupadi Murmu.

Kwatra’s during his meeting with the foreign minister spoke about strengthening India-Nepal relations, according to the Indian Embassy. According to Nepali officials who attended the meeting, the foreign minister sought India’s support and cooperation to open up three new air routes over India. “Kwatra has taken Nepal’s request positively,” they said.

The two sides also discussed power sector cooperation, trade, transit, education, culture, healthcare and connectivity infrastructure.

Kwatra is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda later today. In his meeting with PM Prachanda, Kwatra is expected to discuss the prime minister’s impending visit to India.

Apart from official engagements, Kwatra will also meet with leaders from the ruling and opposition parties to discuss political ties between the two immediate neighboring countries.

Kwatra will meet with Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli, the two former prime ministers of the country.

On Tuesday, Kwatra will also hold meetings with leaders from Nepal’s Terai region including Janamat Party Chairman CK Raut.

Kwatra is the first high-level official to visit Nepal from India after the formation of a new government under the leadership of Prachanda in December last year.

He was welcomed by his Nepali counterpart Paudyal and India’s ambassador to Nepal Naveen Srivastava this morning at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

This is also a return by Kwatra. Earlier in September the Nepali foreign secretary visited India at the invitation of Kwatra.

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu)

Also read: Foreign Secretary Kwatra visiting Kathmandu to reboot India-Nepal ties