Nepal Foreign Affairs (KATHMANDU, 10 August) – External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj has started holding high level meetings in Nepal immediately after landing in Kathmandu on Thursday.
She arrived here to attend 15 BIMSTEC ministerial meeting, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. This is her 6th visit to Nepal after assuming the charge of Indian Foreign Ministry.
Minister Swaraj met Prime Minister Deuba at 4.30 pm at the latter’s official residence, Baluwatar. During the meeting, issues of bilateral relations and political developments of Nepal were discussed.
According to the sources, Minister Swaraj briefed to Prime Minister Deuba about the preparation and agenda of the upcoming official visit, which will commence on 23 August. Minister Swaraj took a stock of the latest political developments in Nepal to set the tone for Deuba’s visit.
Nepal is closely watching India’s efforts to promote BIMSTEC after a stalemate in the working of Saarc because of differences between New Delhi and Islamabad. India’s enthusiasm for BIMSETC was first manifested during the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in Goa.
“So, India’s position on BIMSTEC is crucial,” said a Nepalese official who did not want to be identified.
The foreign ministers of Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan are participating in BIMSTEC ministerial meeting while Myanmar and Thailand have sent their deputy foreign ministers.
The eighteenth session of the BIMSTEC senior officials meeting began in Kathmandu on Thursday morning. Nepal is the current chair of the grouping and the members will discuss several issues, including fixing the dates for the fourth summit to be held in Nepal later this year.
At the top of the agenda for the meeting are finalizing a Free Trade Agreement among BIMSTEC members, including negotiations on market access for professionals and reducing the duty on trading goods. Issues such as trade in services and goods, investments and connectivity are also expected to figure in the meet.