Nepal | April 09, 2020

Pandey ignores fiat to visit China

Lekhanath Pandey

KATHMANDU: Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey has chosen not to visit China in order to hand over Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s invitation to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for the upcoming International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction slated for June 25.

Officials said that in a Cabinet meeting earlier this month Prime Minister Koirala had asked Foreign Minister Pandey to visit Beijing and Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat to travel to New Delhi to hand over the invites to his counterparts in China and India.

Finance Minister Mahat travelled to New Delhi last week and handed over Koirala’s invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the one-day donors’ conference, which is meant to generate funds for the post-quake reconstruction in Nepal.

Minister Pandey, however, chose not to travel to Beijing, and instead forwarded the invitation to Premier Li via Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai. A copy of the invite was also dispatched to the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing to be handed over to the Chinese authorities.

“It is not necessary to go to China to extend invitation,” Minister Pandey told The Himalayan Times. “The invitation has already been extended through diplomatic channels,” he added.Officials at the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs claim that Pandey chose not to travel to Beijing after sensing that ‘Chinese PM would not be able to attend the conference’.

Former chief of protocol Gopal Thapa said inviting one neighbour by dispatching a Cabinet minister and handing over the invite for another neighbour to an ambassador showed lack of far-sightedness in diplomatic dealing.

Officials have also taken it as a sign of rift between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance regarding preparation of the conference.

Since it’s an aid conference, Ministry of Finance is coordinating it, while other ministries, including MoFA, are involved in the preparations.

MoFA has officially stated that it is helping MoF to make the conference a grand success. Nevertheless, sources say MoFA has reservations on MoF sending invites to participating countries, donors and development partners.

Quoting Foreign Minister Pandey, a source said, “Diplomatic invitations should be extended through MoFA, not via finance ministry.”

Madhu Marasini, who heads International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division of MoF, however, said it was part of finance ministry’s job, as it’s basically a conference to garner aid.

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