Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali will be on a 3-day India visit from tomorrow with a focus on procuring COVID vaccines from India. Nepal wants 20% or around 12 million doses of Covid vaccines from India. He will be meeting India’s external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar as part of the 6th Nepal-India joint commission meet for which the invite was extended last year.
A release by Nepal foreign ministry, “The Joint Commission Meeting will discuss the whole gamut of Nepal-India bilateral relations, including trade, transit, energy, boundary, COVID-19 cooperation, infrastructure, connectivity, investment, agriculture, tourism, culture, among others.”
The joint commission meeting, which alternates between the 2 countries, takes place in New Delhi this year. The Fifth Joint Commission Meeting was held in August 2019 in Kathmandu with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visiting the country. The Nepali delegation will consist of the Nepali envoy to India, Foreign Secretary, Health Secretary, and other senior officials of the Government of Nepal.
Last year saw 3 high-level visits from Delhi to Nepal. These include the visit of India’s intelligence chief, followed by the Indian army chief, and then by the visit of the foreign secretary.
This is the first high-level visit from Kathmandu in over a year and comes in the backdrop of India Nepal row over the new map issued by the Oli government. The new Nepali map showed Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories drawing the ire of New Delhi which dismissed the “Unjustified Cartographic Assertion’. He will be the first foreign minister to visit Delhi this year.
While the map row did impact the political ties, the focus on people to people relations continued. India has been involved in a number of projects in the country and plans to operationalize Jayanagar-Kurtha cross-border rail line. Earlier both countries inaugurated the Motihari–Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline, the first cross country pipeline in south Asia. The pipeline can carry two million metric tonnes of petroleum products into Nepal and so far has led to a saving of over 800 million Nepali rupees.