Kathmandu, January 23
Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi today left for a three-day official visit to Qatar, where he would take initiatives for setting up a bilateral consultative mechanism with the Gulf state.
“This is basically a goodwill visit aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Nepal and Qatar,” Bairagi told The Himalayan Times before leaving for Doha this afternoon. Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ramesh Khanal is also accompanying Secretary Bairagi.
During the visit, Bairagi will hold bilateral talks with his Qatari counterpart and also call on Qatari foreign minister. Their meeting will focus on protecting the rights of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar, enhancing bilateral trade and cooperation, according to officials.
The foreign secretary said establishment of a consultative mechanism in order to resolve all bilateral issues is one of the major agendas set for the meeting.
Diplomatic ties between Nepal and Qatar had gone awry when Nepal’s former ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, said during a BBC interview that the Gulf state was “an open prison” for foreign workers. This had not only sparked controversy but also led her ultimate recall in September 2013.
Since then Nepal has not appointed any ambassador to Qatar. The Nepali embassy in Qatar is currently being handled by Charge d’ Affaires.
Before returning home on Tuesday, Bairagi’s team will also attend a function organised by Qatar Foundation in Doha and interact with the Nepali community in Qatar as well as observe the newly shifted Nepal Embassy at Abu Hamour Area, Doha.
A version of this article appears in print on January 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.