External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj is likely to visit Kathmandu before mid-February as part of her engagements for handing over the Birgunj Integrated Check Post to Nepal, The Kathmandu Post reports.
Officials are working to fix the date for Swaraj’s arrival. The visit is viewed with interest at a time when the left alliance is forming a new government probably led by CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli.
According to The Kathmandu Post, New Delhi is perceived to be improving its relations with Oli, who maintained a hard line against the Indian establishment particularly after the southern neighbour resorted to blockade Nepal over the new constitution in 2015.
Oli was the prime minister when the country struck by twin earthquakes faced another emergency created by the supply disruption.
After the left alliance of the UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) swept the federal and parliamentary elections, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called up Oli twice to congratulate him in advance as the next PM, the newspaper reported.
Inviting Oli to visit India, Modi said that his government was ready to work with the new government in Nepal.
According to Nepal Commerce Minister Meen Bishwakarma, after the Indian side insisted that Nepal’s prime minister attend the handing over ceremony, the Commerce Ministry has forwarded a proposal that at least the Indian external affairs minister should come for the arrangement to be made. “We’ll soon fix the dates for her visit and the handing over ceremony,” the minister told the Post.
Constructed with an Indian assistance, the first ICP on the Nepal-India border has the state of the art infrastructure for banking, trade, transit and customs. The facility would come into operation immediately after handover, Bishwakarma said.
Preparations are going on to schedule other engagements for Sushma Swaraj such as her meeting with political leaders in Kathmandu.