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Nepali foreign minister to visit India


Nepali foreign minister to visit India

Nepali foreign minister
Photo: Reuters

Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali lands in New Delhi today to attend the sixth Nepal-India Joint Commission.

Kathmandu is likely to finalise an agreement to purchase 12 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in India, spurning Beijing’s offer to provide Nepal with the Sinovac jab.

The trip highlights Indian support for Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, who dissolved parliament in December amid an internal dispute within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), prompting mandatory elections later this year. China, unable to dissuade Oli from disbanding the legislature, is seen as supporting his rivals in the NCP, forcing the PM to shore up even tacit Indian backing.

Today’s vaccine deal will likely bolster Oli’s electoral chances later this year. India has sought to maintain influence in Nepalese politics, attempting to avoid the prospect of a Chinese-backed Nepalese government. This year’s elections will likely define Nepalese foreign policy and determine New Delhi’s prospects for pushing back against Beijing’s influence in Kathmandu. Today’s meeting will also include a reiteration of Indian support for infrastructure development in Nepal. China has surpassed India as the primary investor in the country, making upcoming projects like the Kathmandu-Raxaul Railway all the more pivotal in maintaining Indian influence.

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