Free Press Journal

New Nepalese deputy PM Kamal Thapa visiting India October 17-19



New Delhi: Nepal’s new Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa is visiting India from October 17-19, in his maiden visit abroad after taking over a few days ago, during which both sides are likely to discuss all issues of mutual concern. External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Thapa, who is also the Himalayan country’s foreign minister, is visiting India within a week of assuming office. He said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will receive him and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is to call on him.

“The visit will provide an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual concern as well as review and further strengthen India-Nepal relations,” said Swarup at a media briefing.

India-Nepal ties have undergone strain in recent weeks over India expressing concern over the new constitution not giving adequate representation to the Madhes and Tharu and other plainspeople of Nepal.

To a question, Swarup stressed that the long line of freight trucks waiting to cross over to Nepal from India was due to the problem of “disruption on the Nepalese side of the border”. He said whenever the disruptions, or protests on the Nepalese side, have slightly eased, “we have tried to send supplies across the border”.

Clarifying his point, he said of the nine crossing points for carrying commercial cargo on the border, five to six points have been constantly in use.

Giving the latest position on truck movement, he said in the past 24 hours, 733 commercial vehicles moved through seven crossing points. “There are still thousands of trucks waiting to cross over, especially at Raxaul,”he said. He also said that nearly 2,500 trucks – 1,500-2,000 at Raxaul and 750 at Sanauli – were waiting to cross over.

“Today is the 21st day of border obstructions, and the 62nd day of unrest,” he said, referring to the protest by Madhes people against the new constitution, which they say does not give them adequate representation. Swarup said Indian trucks are waiting to enter Nepal, which would happen once the political situation on the Nepal side becomes more conducive.

On Wednesday, the Indian envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Rae had called on Thapa in Kathmandu to discuss ways to ease supply of essential goods, including petroleum products, through the India-Nepal border entry points.