New Delhi, February 13
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on Monday interacted with the entire top leadership of Nepal, including President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda whom he invited for an official visit to India, Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal and his counterpart Bharatraj Paudyal.
Kawtra’s visit follows that of several high-level officials from the US State Department as both Foreign Offices recover from the political shock of incumbent PM and Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba having been deprived of the PM’s chair due to an alliance between the country’s two major communist parties.
Air connectivity discussed
- Vinay Mohan Kwatra discussed with Nepali Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal various matters, including enhancing air connectivity between Nepal and India
- Paudyal urged Kwatra to provide an air route for the effective operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport and Pokhara International Airport
- Issues such as increasing development assistance to Nepal, boosting investment and resolving problems surfacing in connectivity featured during the meeting
Though Deuba had won the majority number of seats in an alliance, his main partner Prachanda walked out and joined hands with KP Sharma Oli, who had instigated a border dispute with India during his stint as Nepal Premier.
In fact, Afreen Akhter, a deputy assistant secretary of state handling some of India’s neighbours, also arrived in Kathmandu for a two-day official visit.
Earlier, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland had arrived in Nepal. Her visit was followed by Samantha Power, chief of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), who visited Kathmandu a week back.
The heightened activity takes place against the backdrop of Nepal approving a $500 million developmental grant from the US, which is seen as a move to bring Kathmandu closer in Washington’s orbit.
Besides handing over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to Prachanda for an official visit to India, which is a standard protocol after the election of a new Nepal Prime Minister, issues such as cooperation in energy, trade, transportation, education, culture, health services, connectivity and infrastructure were discussed, according to the Nepal Foreign Ministry.
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