Despite dip in ties, Nepal-India engagement on track
After the deterioration in ties since September last year, when India expressed its unhappiness with the new Nepali Constitution promulgated on September 20, bilateral relations were steadily improving till the K.P. Sharma Oli government abruptly cancelled President Bidhya Bhandari’s visit to India at the last moment.
The perception within the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) that Delhi made a failed bid to topple the Left-led regime in Kathmandu has not resulted in the ruling coalition cancelling bilateral consultations.
Officials said that at least one dozen meetings between Nepal and India will be completed ahead of the planned fourth meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission at the Foreign Minister’s level scheduled to take place in New Delhi after mid-August.
The Joint Commission is the highest-level mechanism between Nepal and India that is mandated to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
Meetings at the Energy Secretary- and Commerce Secretary-level are taking place in New Delhi from Tuesday on the two key driving issues between Nepal and India.
In the Energy Secretary-level meeting, India has pledged to supply additional 120 MW electricity to Nepal through the Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar trans-border transmission line -- in this regard, India has called on Nepal to complete the construction of a sub-station at Dhalkebar at the earliest. During a meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) in New Delhi, which began on Monday, the Indian side accepted the request from the Nepali side to export more electricity to Nepal.
The Nepal-India Commerce Secretary-level meeting kicked off in New Delhi on Tuesday with bilateral trade-related matters prominent on the agenda, tweeted Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Trade, construction of integrated check posts on the Nepal-India border, expansion of Indian rail up to the Nepal border, and banking facilities to Nepali nationals working in India, among others, are on the agenda of the meeting.
According to Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae, the visits of Nepali President Bidhya Bhandari to India and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Nepal are on the cards.