Modi Likely To Visit Nepal In Second Week Of May

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to pay a state visit to Nepal in the second week of May

April 22, 2018, 8:38 a.m.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to pay a state visit to Nepal in the second week of May, his third flight to Nepal after assuming office in 2014.Top government sources said PM Modi would land in Kathmandu after the Assembly elections in the Indian state of Karnataka. According to top officials, discussions are going on for scheduling the visit.

According to The Indian Daily Hindustan Times, a source at Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Indian side has forwarded a proposal.

The source said that India’s proposed date for the high-level visit had put Kathmandu in a difficult situation. The proposal comes at a time when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is preparing for his visit to China. Oli visited India earlier this month.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali returned from a five-day tour of China on Saturday. In Beijing, during his meetings with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and his counterpart Wang Yi, Gyawali laid the ground for PM Oli’s visit. He also reaffirmed Nepal’s commitment to participation in the Belt and Road Initiative while discussions were held for extending the Qinghai-Tibet railway further to Kathmandu.

“India has fixed the date of the visit unilaterally without consulting with us,” said a senior officer in Kathmandu, adding that Delhi had once again scheduled the visit as per its convenience. Oli’s visit to India on April 6-8 was also set from the Indian side.

Karnataka Assembly polling is set for May 12. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition parties have high stakes in the provincial election in the southern Indian state. Modi, who returned from a visit to Europe on Saturday, will visit Karnataka shortly.

The source claimed that the Indian prime minister’s Nepal visit in the midst of his hectic domestic engagements is meant to delay Oli’s planned visit to China. Though New Delhi was somehow assured of friendly relations with Nepal during Oli’s visit, the Indian establishment fears that the communist regime in Kathmandu could tilt to China again and reach fresh agreements and understandings with the northern neighbour.

In 2015, when India imposed a border blockade on Nepal, Modi reached a landmark trade and transit agreement with China. In this backdrop, New Delhi has a strategy to land Modi in Kathmandu before Oli leaves for China.

“Modi’s plan to visit Nepal hastily means that India wants to keep its relations good with the powerful Prime Minister Oli. India’s visit proposal might have come since Oli’s China visit is yet to be scheduled,” said Nishchal Nath Pandey, a foreign affairs expert.

Modi’s visit will end the prospect of PM Oli visiting China ahead of budget presentation. It is almost sure now that Oli will visit China only after the budget in May-end, said officials.

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