Oli to start foreign visit from India

Kathmandu, January 6

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will go to India before China in his maiden foreign visit.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa today confirmed PM Oli would kick off his foreign trips from India, soon.

“Preliminary work for the prime minister’s visit to India and China have already begun,” Thapa said at Reporter’s Club. “The foreign visits will start from India.”

The Deputy PM didn’t divulge when PM Oli would visit the southern neighbour as he has publicly announced that he wouldn’t go to New Delhi before the blockade ended.

A Foreign Ministry source told The Himalayan Times that two likely dates are being discussed for the visit either second or third week of February.

The PM’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal said the exact date was yet to be confirmed.

While welcoming KP Oli’s election as Nepal’s PM in October, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had extended an invitation to him.

He renewed that invitation during a recent telephone conversation with Oli.

Likewise, the Chinese side has extended an invitation to PM Oli to visit China during the recent visit of Deputy PM Thapa to Beijing.

Thapa said that all Nepal-India crossing points, except the main Birgunj-Raxual one had been cleared and supplies through these routes were normal.

He hoped that the ongoing disruption on the Birgunj-Raxual route would also be cleared as the negotiation with the agitating Madhesi front had moved towards logical conclusion.

He informed that the government was going to build a framework for long-term economic cooperation with the northern neighbour.

Homework is under way to have major treaties in place such as free trade agreement, bilateral investment protection, and promoting agreement and transit treaty between Nepal and China, which are likely to be sealed during the prime minister’s upcoming visit to China, which is yet to be confirmed.

DPM Thapa, who recently returned from a five-day official visit of China, said Nepal’s decision to have such agreements with China was a ‘policy departure’.

“Henceforth, the upcoming generation of Nepali people will never ever have to face such blockade,” he added. Saying that the mindset has been developed in such a way that we are an India-locked country, he stated that such a perception would change by linking Nepal’s trade and economy to the extent-possible with China as well.

He, however, cautioned that the recent move of strengthening economic cooperation with China was not a reaction to the recent blockade.

“To seek transit rights and have a transit treaty with China is our right,” he added.

“Now, we have realised the need to grasp that opportunity which was always there.”