Foreign secretary Shringla to arrive in Nepal on maiden visit on Thursday

Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will arrive in Kathmandu on Thursday on his maiden official visit to Nepal during which he will hold talks with his Nepalese counterpart and other top leaders and discuss wide ranging areas of bilateral cooperation.

Shringla is visiting Nepal at the invitation of foreign secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, amid a strain in bilateral ties following a bitter border row between the two countries.

This will be a continuation of the regular exchange of high level visits between the two friendly neighbours, the Nepalese foreign ministry said in a statement this week.

“During the visit, Shringla will hold bilateral meeting with his Nepali counterpart and discuss wide ranging areas of cooperation between Nepal and India,” it said.

“The Indian foreign secretary will also call on the high-level dignitaries of Nepal,” the statement said, without identifying them.

He will also hand over Covid-19 related support to the Government of Nepal before wrapping up his two-day visit on Friday.

Earlier this month, Indian Army chief Gen. M M Naravane travelled to Nepal on a three-day visit during which he held talks with Nepal’s top leadership and discussed bilateral relations.

During the visit, he called on Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who is also the defence minister of Nepal. Oli told him that problems between Nepal and India would be resolved through dialogue.

Gen Naravane’s three-day visit to Nepal was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following a bitter border row between the two countries.

The ties between the two countries came under strain after defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory.

Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.

After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

In its reaction, after Nepal’s lower house of parliament approved the bill, India had also termed as untenable the “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims by the neighbouring country.

India had said Nepal’s action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks. Meanwhile, Chinese defence minister Gen. Wei Fenghe is scheduled to visit Nepal shortly after Shringla returns home, according to Foreign Ministry sources here.

Wei is likely to arrive here on Sunday on a four-day official visit, though the date of the trip is yet to be officially announced.

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