Nepal to be Shringla’s next port of call

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 11

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will continue India’s whirlwind diplomacy in the aftermath of the LAC tensions with China and the normalisation of the Covid pandemic with a visit to Nepal towards the end of this month, reported the media in Kathmandu.

This will be the Foreign Secretary’s fifth foreign visit and comes on the heels of his visit to the Maldives this week. Earlier, he had travelled to Bangladesh, Myanmar, France, Germany and the UK. The Nepali media has reported that Shringla will be in Kathmandu on November 26-27 but the MEA, which confirms high-level visits closer to the actual dates, has officially not spoken on the dates.

The visit to Nepal will build on the signals of renewed friendship from Baluwatar since August 15 when Nepal PM K P Oli made a courtesy phone call to PM Narendra Modi. This was followed up with the sacking of the Defence Minister and holding back the publication of textbooks, both related to a territorial dispute with India.

Since then, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane and RAW chief Samant Goel have called on Oli in Kathmandu, ostensibly for visits postponed earlier due to Covid, but also to clear misunderstandings featuring them.

Shringla has just returned from Maldives where India’s post-Galwan Valley clash strategy of working in tandem with the US is being put to practice. The US has signed a defence framework agreement with the Maldives which was followed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landing in Male soon after the India-US 2 + 2 talks.

India is undertaking the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP), an economic lifeline connecting Male with Vilingili, the new commercial port at Gulhifalhu and industrial zone at Thilafushi.

Shringla was also in Bangladesh which was soon visited by top US diplomat Stephen Biegun to turn around a relationship with PM Sheikh Hasina.

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