External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks on Friday with his counterpart from Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, focusing on various aspects of the bilateral relations, under the framework of the Indo-Nepal joint commission meeting (JCM).
Gyawali, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday, on a three-day visit, is the most senior Nepali official to visit India since ties turned a little frosty on account of border differences last year.
This is also the first visit by a senior politician since Nepal’s prime minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved Parliament last month and called for early elections, plunging the Himalayan nation into political turmoil.
According to Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the “boundary issue” may not be on the agenda during the talks. “Let me say that the JCM and boundary talks are separate mechanisms,” Srivastava had told the media on Thursday.
Nevertheless, Gyawali’s visit comes at a critical time for Nepal, which is facing political instability. New Delhi is concerned that China, which has steadily increased its influence in Nepal, is trying to meddle in the internal affairs of Nepal. New Delhi has long considered Kathmandu to be one of its closest allies, and is wary of China’s intrusion into India’s traditional ‘sphere of influence’.
So New Delhi will have to find ways to assuage Kathmandu over the territorial issue.