New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Kathmandu on Thursday to hold discussions with Nepal’s political leaders on issues of “mutual interest”, the external affairs ministry announced on Monday night.
Sushma Swaraj’s two-day Visit, which comes ahead of the formation of a new government by a Communist alliance which is expected to be headed by CPN-UML chief and former prime minister K P Oli, is also seen as part of India’s efforts to improve relations with the new regime.
“The upcoming visit will provide an opportunity to hold discussions with political leaders of Nepal on issues of mutual interest, and to advance age-old, special ties of friendship between India and Nepal,” the ministry said in a release.
It further said that the visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level political exchanges between India and Nepal, and reflects the expanding bilateral partnership and the importance that the two countries attach to further strengthening it across diverse sectors.
Sushma Swaraj’s visit also comes at a time when China is seen as trying to spread its influence in Nepal. In September last year, China and Nepal agreed to start technical work to build a cross-border railway link via Tibet to boost connectivity. Nepal also recently ended India’s monopoly over internet services in the country and joined hands with China to offer internet services to its citizens. However, a CPN-UML leader said that the new government won’t be “anti-India” or “pro-China” and that it would maintain good relations with both countries.
Sushma Swaraj will be the first senior Indian minister to visit Nepal after the conclusion of elections to local bodies, provincial assemblies and federal Parliament.
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