KATHMANDU: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will pay a two-day visit to Nepal beginning Thursday with an aim to boost cooperation in an array of areas including hydro-power, connectivity, digital payments and trade.
It is expected that both sides will sign an agreement on the modalities that would facilitate Nepal exporting 10,000 megawatt of power to India in the next 10 years in line with a decision taken by the leadership of the two countries in June.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Mr Jaishankar will co-chair along with his Nepalese counterpart NP Saud a meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission, the highest bilateral platform for reviewing the overall ties.
“External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will visit Kathmandu from January 4 to 5 on the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Nepal, NP Saud for co-chairing the seventh meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission,” it said.
In Kathmandu, the external affairs minister is scheduled to call on President Ramchandra Paudel and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda.’ The India-Nepal Joint Commission was established in 1987 and provides a platform for both sides to review all aspects of the bilateral partnership.
“During the visit, the external affairs minister will also call on the leadership of Nepal and meet prominent political figures,” the MEA said in a statement.
“Nepal is a priority partner of India under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. The visit is in keeping with the tradition of high level exchanges between two close and friendly neighbours,” it said.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states - Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.
The Nepalese foreign ministry said Mr Saud will also host a dinner in honour of Mr Jaishankar and the members of his delegation.
“The Joint Commission Meeting will review the overall state of bilateral relations and various areas of mutual cooperation,” it said.
In June, Prime Minister ‘Prachanda’ visited New Delhi during which both sides signed several major pacts including one on increasing New Delhi’s import of power from the neighbouring country to 10,000 mega watt in the next 10 years from current 450 megawatt.