By: Melvin Samuel
India and Nepal agreed on Monday to further bolster their economic and development cooperation as Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra met his Nepalese counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal and reviewed the wide-ranging bilateral partnership.
Foreign Secretary Kwatra arrived here on a two-day official visit to hold talks with the country’s top political leadership on the entire range of multifaceted cooperation between the two countries.
“Foreign Secretary Shri Vinay Kwatra met his counterpart Mr Bharat Raj Paudyal and reviewed the wide-ranging India-Nepal partnership,” the Indian embassy here tweeted.
“Both sides agreed to further strengthen their economic and development cooperation for benefit of the two countries and region as a whole,” it said.
During his visit, Kwatra, who was earlier India’s ambassador here, will pay courtesy calls to Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Foreign Minister Paudyal.
It is expected that Kwatra will also discuss with his Nepalese interlocutors the possibility of a visit to India by Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda. Prachanda has said that he will travel to India on his first foreign visit.
Nepal and India will discuss various matters of bilateral cooperation such as connectivity, power trade, agriculture, health and culture among others during the foreign secretary’s visit, according to a statement issued by Nepal’s foreign ministry here on Sunday.
“The visit is in continuation of the regular exchange of visits between the two friendly neighbours,” it said.
This will be the first high-level visit from India after Prime Minister Prachanda assumed office for the third time in December.
Kwatra is also expected to meet Nepal’s top political leaders, including Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli.
“The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the Ministry of External Affairs has said.
India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy is an integral component of Indian foreign policy. The policy seeks to build cordial and synergetic relations with India’s South Asian neighbours in various areas such as economy, science and technology, research and education, among others.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
The country shares a border of more than 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.