India’s External Affairs Secretary Subramaniyam Jaishankar arrived in Kathmandu this morning for a two-day official visit as the part of his SAARC Yaatra, literally meaning a visit to the seven countries of South Asian region.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the Yaatra two months ago, at the appointment of Jaishankar to the top foreign office job in India, with an anticipation to boost his ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
Speaking to reporters Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar at Tribhuwan International Airport said “My visit reflects the importance our government and the Prime Minister attach to our relations with Nepal. I hope to review progress achieved in our bilateral cooperation following the historic visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal last year.”
This is the first visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar to Nepal after his appointment on Jan 29. The Foreign Secretary said that India is committed to strengthen her multifaceted and mutually beneficial relationship with Nepal. “We support the aspirations of the people of Nepal for peace, stability and prosperity, he said. Jaishankar has held bilateral talks with his Nepali counterpart Shanker Das Bairagi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also paid courtesy call on Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey on Thursday itself.
The visit is primarily expected to focus on the progress of Nepal’s development projects supported by India. Some major projects like
Pancheswor multipurpose, having stayed in limbo for decades, have taken speed after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited
Kathmandu early August last year.
India as the regional power and closest neighbor of Nepal has a stake in Nepal’s political process which has taken a complex course of late
with political parties divided under ruling, opposition and pro-Hindu alliances. The Maoist-led opposition forces have taken to the streets
demanding a new constitution through a consensus in the Constituent Assembly over two-thirds vote. Although foreign offices in both
countries would prefer not to talk Nepal’s internal matters in public, meeting rooms will certainly be abuzz over these developments.
Interestingly, the opposition alliance led by the Unified Maoist party has withdrawn part of its earlier announced protest programs,
including a General strike on April 2, in order to facilitate the visit. Jaishankar will also call on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala tomorrow. Jaishankar will hold talks with CA Chairman Subash Chandra Nembang, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli.
Recently, Jaishankar had paid visits in four SAARC member states. Jaishankar reached Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on March 1, 2, 3 and 4.