With blockade lifted, Nepal PM Oli set for India visit


The India-Nepal relations, under strain for several months, are set for a bounce during Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s maiden visit to India on February 19. This will be his first visit abroad after taking over as the country’s prime minister.

Nepal’s Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel discussed the visit with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his visit to Delhi on February 7. He also discussed the reconstruction assistance extended by India in the aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake. The quake had devastated large parts of Nepal, including its capital Kathmandu. India had extended $1 billion in assistance to Nepal at a donors conference in Kathmandu in June.

“FM Poudel discusses reconstruction assistance. Briefs EAM (Swaraj) on political situation, remaining constitutional issues & PM Oli’s visit to India,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Mr Oli, who took over from the then prime minister Sushil Koirala in October 2015, had said that he would visit India only when the atmosphere is right. More recently, Mr Oli had said only when the border blockade ends, he would visit India. The blockade, which brought much hardship to the people of Nepal and put bilateral relations with India under severe strain, was lifted on February 5.

After the tensions escalated at the borders due to the blockade, there was speculation that Mr Oli might choose to visit China first. 

India-Nepal relations had acquired a new momentum after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country twice in 2014. However, with the blockade at the borders imposed by Madhesis in protest against a discriminatory constitution, bilateral relations had dipped to a low. Now, with Mr Oli’s visit to New Delhi, India is hoping to begin a new chapter of constructive engagement with its Himalayan neighbour.

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