NEW DELHI, July 26 (RIA Novosti) – India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has arrived in Nepal for an three-day visit that is expected to prepare ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to the country.
The main objective of Swaraj’s visit to Nepal is to strengthen bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries. According to sources, Modi could arrive in Nepal on August 3-4.
“This visit is of great significance in view of the changing geopolitical equations of the South Asia region. It will make ground for the PM visit. The relations between India and Nepal are time tasted but in the recent years Chinese closeness to Nepal is a cause of concern for India,” former senior diplomat Amb Yogendra Kumar told RIA Novosti.
The diplomat added: “India has good relations with PM Sushil Koirala, but there are many political factions in Nepal which is a hurdle for smooth Indo-Nepal relations.”
Swaraj will start his visit with the crucial Third Joint Commission meeting will take place today. The meeting is due to focus on political, security and border issues; economic cooperation and infrastructure; trade and transit; power and water resources and culture, education and media.
The first and second Joint Commission meetings took place in Kathmandu and New Delhi in 1988 and 1991, respectively.
Swaraj is expected to meet with top Nepalese leadership including Prime Minister Sushsil Koirala and hold meetings with leaders across the political spectrum, including Maoist leader Prachanda.
During her visit, Sushma will also push the trade ties between the two countries. Currently, the annual bilateral trade is approximately $ 4.7 billion and India accounts for the 47 percent of direct investment in Nepal.
The two countries will also explore opportunities in the field of railways.
India and Nepal have unique relationship in accordance with the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950. There is free movement of peoples across the 1,850 kilometer border, which Nepal shares with five Indian states.
India has largely contributed in the development efforts of Nepal by undertaking various projects in the field of infrastructure, health, rural and community development and education.