News Digest – International Relations & Foreign Affairs (December 10 – December 16, 2020)

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Loopholes in the Foreign Policy: Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali unveiled the foreign policy on December 6. However, party representatives, foreign policy observers, and experts have criticised the policy and questioned the government’s ability to implement it. Madhav Kumar Nepal, head of the ruling NCP’s foreign affairs department, shared that neither he nor any foreign policy expert was consulted or made aware of the new foreign policy dossier. Many political leaders and experts raised questions due to the several shortcomings in the document.

Nepal-India’s ministerial-level dialogue: Nepal has yet to confirm to India about the ministerial level dialogue which was to be held in mid-December due to the ongoing intra-party dispute. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has failed to propose dates and the agenda of the meeting. Foreign Minister Gyawali will visit New Delhi for the meeting. He shared that the boundary dispute, along with other issues, will be listed on the agenda.

Visit prior to ministerial-level meeting with India: On December 11, Vijay Chauthaiwale, in charge of foreign affairs department of BJP, arrived in Kathmandu at the invitation of the NCP Secretary-General and Finance Minister, Bishnu Poudel, ahead of the Ministerial level meeting. Chauthaiwale met with several party leaders conveying the message that BJP will align forces with any political party irrespective of their political ideology. During his meetings with deputy parliamentary party leader, he discussed strengthening “people-to-people” relations between the two countries.

Nepal-US to hold trade talks: The fifth meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council has been scheduled for December 15 between Nepal and the United States. The list of agenda of the upcoming meeting includes issues regarding customs and trade facilitation, preference programme and technical assistance, and intellectual property rights according to the media reports. Although the agreement must allow Nepal to reap trade benefits, Nepal has been unsuccessful; therefore, the meeting will likely address such concerns and seek support.

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