Main objective is to strengthen goodwill: FM

  • Says there will be no new agenda, agreement or demand from the Nepali side

Kathmandu, April 1

The main objective of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s upcoming state visit to India, which is slated from April 6 to 8, is to strengthen goodwill between the two countries and open new dynamics in bilateral relations, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali said today.

He said there would be no new agenda, or agreement, or demand from the Nepali side during the visit, and it would solely focus on expediting and executing agreements reached in the past. “There are so many pending agenda that need to be expedited,” he told journalists. Stating that Nepal-India relations went through a difficult phase, the foreign minister said it actually revealed what needed to be done to improve bilateral relations.

“In the past, Nepal-India relations witnessed some ups and downs. India had some reservations ever since Nepal adopted its new constitution. Nepal took a position and we are proud of it. The position taken by the then government led by PM Oli also received national approval in the recently held elections,” he said.

Against this backdrop, India seems to be willing to start afresh when it comes to Nepal-India relations, and it is evident by the fact that Indian PM Narendra Modi made telephone calls to PM Oli immediately after the left alliance registered a thumping victory in the elections and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Nepal to congratulate PM Oli, said Minister Gyawali. “We have taken the initiative of the Indian government positively,” he said.

The minister also said that it is probably the best time to revisit Nepal-India relations, strengthen and make it harmonious, as both countries have strong leadership which would result in policy consistency and eliminate any unpredictability. “Also, Nepal’s major priority now is economic development and attracting investment. Any political agenda where our interests might have clashed are not present now,” he said.

He also said that harmonious bilateral relations were not only needed for Nepal, but also for India as the two countries were interdependent in a lot of ways. “On the surface, it might look like Nepal is only the recipient and India is a sort of donor. But the fact is we are interdependent,” he said, citing that around 700,000 Nepalis were working in India and as many Indians were working in Nepal, Nepali rivers were flowing into India and Gorkha troops were in the Indian army, among others.

On the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations, Minister Gyawali said the process had reached its final phase and the development so far suggested that it would come up with a report which would be executed and owned by both governments.

As far as relations with its immediate neighbours are concerned, the foreign minister said Nepal’s relations with both India and China were independent, and they could not be compared with each other.

“One country is not an alternative to the other; both have importance in their own way,” he said, adding that Nepal did not have any alternative to maintaining harmonious and close relations with both neighbours.

Stating that there were both cooperation and strategic and geopolitical competition between China and India, Minister Gyawali said Nepal was not a part of that competition in any way and it just wanted to benefit from the development realised by the two Asian giants.

“As I’ve said our priority is economic development and attracting investment. So we are not in any way part of the competition between the two countries. We cannot afford to be a part and should not be,” he said, reiterating that Nepal would always respect legitimate concerns of its neighbours and would never allow its land to be used against them.

Underscoring that the government’s major objective was achieving economic development and prosperity, he said the topmost agenda of the government’s diplomatic engagements was economic development of the country. “So our foreign policy is also aimed at creating a favourable environment so as to achieve our domestic objective of economic development and prosperity,” he said.

Minister Gyawali also said that after 70 years of political movement, Nepal now had moved towards stability and Nepal had favourable environment for investment. He also expressed commitment that any hurdles, such as bureaucratic and legal red-tape, would be sorted out without leaving room for complaint.