PM Oli likely to visit India before China

Kathmandu, January 2

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is most likely to visit India before China in his maiden foreign trip after assuming office in October. Both the Nepali and Indian sides are keen to confirm an early date for PM Oli’s trip to New Delhi, sources added.

The latest telephone conversation between PM Oli and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi has further strengthened the prospect of Oli’s first foreign visit to the southern neighbour, it added.

During Thursday’s telephone talks, PM Modi had renewed his invitation to his Nepali counterpart to visit India soon.

Nevertheless, PM Oli has publicly said that he wouldn’t embark on a trip to New Delhi until the blockade was lifted and supplies through the Nepal-India trading routes restored fully.

“The prime minister may embark on India trip before visiting China,” PM Oli’s Foreign Relation Adviser, Gopal Khanal, told The Himalayan Times. “The date has not been confirmed yet. Both sides have agreed to make it sooner than later,” he added.

He asserted that the visit might take place after the blockade is lifted.The Prime Minister could visit India in January itself, if the blockade is lifted soon, said another source.

If PM Oli visits India first, he would probably visit China in March as he has been invited to attend the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference.

It is surmised that the Indian side extended invitation to PM Oli to visit India soon as the Chinese side last week officially invited him to visit Beijing. Nepal and China are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year.

The Chinese side had extended the invitation to PM to visit China during a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on December 25.

Diplomatic sources claimed that Indian side was worried that PM Oli would embark on a visit to China before visiting India by ‘breaking tradition’— particularly in the present context of Nepal-India standoff over the issue of the new Constitution, Tarai protests and unofficial blockade.