Boosting India-Nepal cooperation in areas of energy, connectivity and trade is set to be the focus of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Pushpakamal Dahal 'Prachanda' on Thursday. Hours after arriving in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon on a four-day visit to India, 'Prachanda' said at an event in the Nepalese embassy that both sides are keen to expand the overall ties and indicated that a number of agreements are likely to be firmed following his talks with Modi.
Separately, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval called on the Nepalese leader and discussed various aspects of India-Nepal ties. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra was also present at the meeting. It is Prachanda's first bilateral trip abroad after assuming the top office in December 2022.
"We are committed to strengthening ties between the two countries," the Nepalese prime minister said at the event at the embassy.
India-Nepal trade ties
Nepalese Foreign Minister N P Saud, who is part of Prachanda's delegation, said a wide range of matters, including trade, transit, connectivity and border issues will figure in the bilateral talks on Thursday. Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old "Roti Beti" relationship.
Transforming the civilizational ties between India and Nepal with deeper cooperation in areas of connectivity, economy, energy and infrastructure is expected to be a focus area of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prachanda on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said.
One of the key priority areas would be to further deepen the power sector cooperation through new initiatives across the entire spectrum of cooperation, they said.
India-Nepal electricity pact
The India-Nepal joint vision statement on power sector cooperation of April last year is considered a milestone and Nepal has been exporting over 450 MW of electricity to India. The two prime ministers are also likely to review the India-Nepal development partnership which forms the key pillar of the bilateral relations.
Strengthening the financial connections between the two countries would be a discussion point, said one of the people cited above.
In April last year, RuPay card was launched in Nepal during the visit of then Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba to India.
Prachanda was received at the airport in Delhi by Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi. Previously, he visited India in 2016 and in 2008 in his capacity as the Nepalese prime minister.
"PM @cmprachanda of Nepal arrives in New Delhi on his first overseas visit after assumption of office. Warmly welcomed by MoS @M_Lekhi at the airport. The visit will impart renewed momentum to the close and unique India-Nepal relationship," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. A high-level delegation is accompanying Prachanda.
He and Prime Minister Modi will hold talks on Thursday following which both sides are expected to ink a number of agreements. The Nepalese prime minister is also scheduled to call on President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Nepal is considered an important country for New Delhi as it shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The land-locked nation relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.
Nepal's access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India. The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries. On Friday morning, the Nepalese prime minister will travel to Indore and will leave for Kathmandu the next day.
(With inputs from PTI)