NEW DELHI: Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Thursday arrived in India for a two-day visit during which he will meet his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar and is expected to discuss the boundary issue and cooperation on Covid vaccine.
The Nepalese foreign minister will meet Jaishankar on Friday after which he will co-chair the meeting of the India-Nepal joint commission.
The sixth joint commission meeting “will discuss the whole gamut of Nepal-India bilateral relations, including trade, transit, energy, boundary, COVID-19 cooperation, infrastructure, connectivity, investment, agriculture, tourism, culture, among others”, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The Nepalese foreign secretary and the health secretary are part of Gyawali’s delegation, indicating that the focus of the discussions will revolve around procuring Covid vaccine from India.
The move assumes significance as Nepal has indicated preference for Indian vaccines over China’s Sinovac due to factors like the pricing and the already well-established ties between the two neighbours in the health sector.
Sources said that the Nepalese side is looking to procure around 12 million doses of the vaccine.
However, India over the past few days has made it clear that the ability to export vaccines will be clear only after a few weeks after its domestic needs are satisfied. New Delhi has also asserted that its neighbours will get priority in the export of vaccines.
Apart from the vaccine cooperation, the boundary issue is also likely to come up for discussion. India-Nepal relations hit a roadblock after the KP Sharma Oli government had laste year approved a new political map which featured the Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura.
India had slammed the move, calling it unjustified cartographic assertion. Sources in the MEA said as Oli is currently running a caretaker government after dissolving the Nepal Parliament, discussions on the boundary issue are not likely to move forward.