Foreign Minister Gyawali leaves for Bangladesh

KATHMANDU: Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has left for a three-day official visit to Bangladesh at the invitation his Bangladeshi counterpart, Dr AK Abdul Momen.

Gyawali is accompanied by Joint-Secretary at the Foreign Ministry, Yagya Bahadur Hamal, Joint-Secretary at the Commerce and Supply Ministry, Nabaraj Dhakal, and Joint-Secretary at the Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Prabin Aryal.

During the visit, Gyawali will hold delegation-level talks with his counterpart. The two foreign ministers will review overall aspects of the bilateral relations and exchange views on various matters of mutual interest such as energy, trade, transit, connectivity, tourism and cooperation on regional and multilateral issues, according to a MoFA statement. Minister Gyawali said he would take initiative to foster partnership between the two countries in regional, international and multilateral forums.

The two sides are also expected to hold talks on Preferential Trade Agreement and Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement, besides cross border electricity trade. Earlier, the PTA was expected to be signed during Bangladeshi President Mohammad Abdul Hamid’s visit to Nepal last November. On the sidelines of the 18th NAM Summit in Azerbaijan in October, Bangladesh Prime Minister Seikh Hasina had requested Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to finalise the PTA during Hamid’s Nepal visit.

As far as the BBIN is concerned, Bangladesh, India and Nepal have already ratified it. Although lower house of Bhutan approved the agreement in 2016, the upper house rejected it. Bhutan has requested for a cap to be fixed on the number of vehicles entering its territory. During the Azerbaijan meet, Oli and Hasina had agreed to implement the BBIN Agreement among the three countries, if Bhutan needed more time.

For cross-border power trade, Bangladesh has already formulated a policy to import 9,000 MW electricity from Nepal by 2040. Construction of transmission line, selection of projects and cooperation on alternative energy are in focus.

Nepal and Bangladesh have also agreed to cooperate on electricity generation, development of hydroelectricity, cross-border transmission lines, development of efficient human resources in hydropower sector, promotion of government-to-government and private sector investment, grid connectivity and investment in renewable energy.

The Foreign Minister is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies on Nepal-Bangladesh Relation and South Asian Cooperation. He will return home on February 19.