News Digest – International Relations & Foreign Affairs (January 14 – January 20)

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Gyawali’s visit to New Delhi: Before the visit to New Delhi, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali expected to discuss Nepal’s vaccine procurement, boundary dispute, and the current political situation in Nepal. As Pradeep Gyawali landed in India, the spokesperson of External Foreign Ministry, Anurag Srivastava, hinted that boundary disputes might not be discussed during the meeting, contradicting his own statement made on January 12. Pradeep Gyawali was also caught off-guard by the news when he reached New Delhi. Furthermore, Srivastava added that the meeting would emphasize on various aspects of the bilateral relations and ‘provide political guidance to further enhance the special and unique ties.’

During his 3-day visit, Minister Gyawali expected to participate in individual meetings with Indian PM Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh among other top officials as these meetings will be crucial since it will help understand what Nepal political developments means to India.

In an exclusive interview with Kathmandu Post’s Suresh Raj Neupane, Gyawali shared that his focus is to enhance bilateral relations which have been soured in the recent past. Moreover, on questioning whether he is visiting India to gather support for Oli, Gyawali stated that he would not discuss internal issues on ‘foreign soil’.

Minister Gyawali met with Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Minister Singh tweeted about the ‘wonderful meeting’ and emphasized on Nepal-India relations which is driven by the people of both countries. The Indian side still showed reluctance to discuss the crucial boundary dispute.

Despite several attempts and expectations to schedule a meeting with the Indian PM Modi, Minister Gyawali and the Indian PM did not meet due to the latter’s busy schedule. Moreover, analysts claimed that meeting under the current political circumstances wouldn’t send across the right message, and India doesn’t want to interfere in Nepal’s domestic politics. Gyawali had apparently visited Delhi to justify Nepal’s political turmoil and clarified that the house was dissolved to “make the people of Nepal sovereign.”

Boundary dispute wasn’t discussed during the Nepal-India Joint Commission’s sixth meeting in New Delhi on January 15. The two sides simply committed to complete the ‘boundary’ works at the earliest.

In conclusion, Gyawali’s meetings in Delhi were futile as there was no conclusion regarding the border dispute and neither was any agreement about the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine from India.

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