Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s three-day trip to Nepal set the “political tone” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-anticipated official visit here, a leading Nepal daily said Monday.
“Looking ahead to Modi’s official visit, we believe Swaraj, during her busy days in Kathmandu, set the political tone for the much-anticipated August 3-4 visit,” said an editorial in eKantipur.
Sushma Swaraj’s three-day visit saw a series of meetings with the top leadership of Nepali political parties.
After President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Constituent Assembly Chairman Subhas Nembang, Swaraj met UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda, top leaders of the Madhesi parties, and CPN-UML leaders, including acting chairman Bam Dev Gautam.
The editorial said these parleys bode well for the Nepal-India relationship, “which New Delhi has long outsourced purely to bureaucrats and security agencies”.
“Swaraj’s meetings in Kathmandu carry heavy political symbolism, in that they are an assertion of the new Indian government’s marked emphasis in dealing with neighbouring countries at a distinctly political level,” it added.
Sushma Swaraj also led the Indian delegation to the third meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission (JC), which last met 23 years ago.
“As much as rich in political symbolism, we were particularly encouraged by progress in the power sector, which has long been held hostage to mutual suspicions.”
It went on to say that Sushma Swaraj’s assurances were in line with the Modi government’s “focus on mutual economic benefit, a step away from the vague rhetoric of ï¿½special relationshipï¿½ and South Asian neighbourliness that has characterised Nepal-India relations”.
The daily hoped for “Indian acknowledgement of Chinaï¿½s role in regional and sub-regional initiatives is now translated into multilateral cooperation whenever possible. We hope too that Nepal is finally able to capitalise on its strategic location”.