By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, Aug 7 (IANS) In his first foreign tour after assuming office, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will embark on a five-day state visit to India from August 23, it was announced on Monday.
Amid military standoff between India and China, the visit is significant as Deuba choose to visit New Delhi first after being elected two months back.
At a press conference here, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that preparations for the visit and its agenda are underway.
Besides holding talks in New Delhi on August 24 with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and top political leaders from ruling and opposition parties, Deuba will visit Bodh Gaya and Triputi Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh.
“We are working on some concrete outcome during the visit,” said Mahara, adding discussions on the visit will take place only after the 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting to be held here on Friday for which Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will reach Kathmandu on Thursday.
Officials in Kathmandu also indicted that Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is also likely to visit Nepal ahead of the visit, probably after the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on August 14.
Officials said that dozens of bilateral issues will be discussed during the visit of Deuba who had already paid three officials visits to India in 1996, 2004 and 2005.
Some of the key issues like execution of decade-old Mahakali Treaty, an MoU on reconstruction projects in Nepal, expediting the India-funded projects in Nepal and some other cross-border connectivity-related projects will be discussed during the visit.
Mahara said that Nepal wants peaceful resolution of military standoff between India and China and does not want to be dragged into their boundary disputes, calling on both their big neighbours should maintain cordial relations through peaceful diplomacy and dialogue.
On the current Indian-Chinese standoff where Nepal is facing diplomatic pressure to swing before either, Mahara said: “We do not support any of our neighbours in this case.”
Indian and Chinese diplomats are regularly meeting with Nepali officials and diplomats in Kathmandu, New Delhi and Beijing to get support but Nepal has been maintaining “equidistance” over the issue.
“We do not support any outcome that comes out of war,” he added, saying that Nepal will maintain its nonaligned policy over the issue while denying that no pressure on Nepal from India or China to tilt to either side.
“We have seen some media reports that Nepal was dragged or tilted to one side which is wrong,” he said, while unveiled an action plan which stated that Nepal will strengthen and widen its foreign policy with both its neigbhours and will push trilateral partnership with India and China, two Asian giants, for Nepal’s prosperity.
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