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Nepal’s prime minister walks the tightrope on visit to India

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Nepal’s prime minister walks the tightrope on visit to India

Nepali Residents Protest Against New Nepali Constitution In New Delhi
Nepali Residents Protest Against New Nepali Constitution In New Delhi
Photo: Hindustan Times/Getty

Sher Bahadur Deuba commences his four-day state visit to Nepal’s southern neighbour today, his first since assuming office in June.

Topping the agenda will be Nepal’s stance in the increasingly tense Doklam Plateau standoff between India and China. Mr Deuba has made it clear that his country won’t take a side on the issue, urging New Delhi and Beijing to resolve their differences peacefully.

When relations between India and Nepal deteriorated in late 2015 over Indian dissatisfaction with Nepal’s new constitution, China seized the opportunity to expand its influence in the landlocked country—increasing humanitarian aid to $116 million and markedly increasing its direct investment. While relations with India have since thawed, New Delhi is hard pressed to catch up and bring equally enticing gifts to the table—Nepal’s parliament has already asked India to speed up a joint hydropower project.

While extracting favours from both competing sides might seem an attractive option, Nepal is becoming more entangled in the Sino-Indian rivalry, constraining Kathmandu’s room for manoeuvre.

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