Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will meet Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on 26 November during his two-day visit designed to cement people-to-people ties of the two neighbours, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, insisting that there was no change in the schedule of India’s top diplomat against the backdrop of political turmoil in Kathmandu.
“The foreign secretary’s itinerary is intact. There has been no change,” a top diplomat told Hindustan Times, responding to buzz in Kathmandu that New Delhi could put off Shringla’s visit amid the uncertainty around PM Oli.
The visit is the first formal diplomatic contact between the two sides after relations between the two neighbours nosedived after Nepal opposed an 80 km-border road to Lipulekh region, which is claimed by Nepal. Kathmandu responded by issuing a new map that showed Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal.
The Indian foreign secretary’s visit is expected to help put bilateral ties back on an even keel and will focus on deepening people-to-people ties. Apart from PM Oli, Shringla is scheduled to meet his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal, who took charge just last month, foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and call on President Bidhya Devi Bhandari as well.
Shringla’s visit will take place at a time PM Oli faces the third, and according to reports from Kathmandu, the most serious challenge to his authority from within the ruling Nepal Communist Party where he is pitted against Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, according to Kathmandu Post, has presented a political document that accuses PM Oli of failing to govern the country that has provoked a stinging response from the prime minister at a party meeting this week.
The communist party’s secretariat is due to meet on November 28, which will be followed by its 44-member Standing Committee meeting on December 3. PM Oli is in the minority in these committees.
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