Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali arrived in Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit during which he will attend the India-Nepal Joint Commission meeting and is expected to discuss COVID-19 cooperation, the border issue along with the entire gamut of bilateral relations with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar.
Mr Gyawali is the senior-most political leader from Nepal to visit India after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli triggered a border row last year by publishing a new political map that showed the three Indian territories — Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh — as part of Nepal.
The joint commission is the highest mechanism between the two countries to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
The sixth joint commission meeting on Friday “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”, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement earlier.
During his visit, Foreign Minister Gyawali will also meet with the high-level dignitaries of India, the statement said.
Mr Gyawali is being accompanied by Nepalese Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudyal and Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population Laxmi Aryal, according to Nepalese officials.
After Nepal released the map last year, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.
The bilateral exchanges that had stalled due to the bitter boundary dispute were reset in the later part of 2020 with a series of visits, as New Delhi emphasised that it sees itself as the Himalayan nation’s “foremost friend” and development partner.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s maiden visit to Nepal in November was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties. Mr Shringla met Prime Minister Oli and other top political brass and emphasised that India and Nepal are on the same page and share the same vision.