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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday will arrive in Kathmandu on a three day visit which, apart from preparing ground for PM Narendra Modi’s visit in early August, will focus on a range of bilateral issues. Officials said Swaraj will head the Indian side in a Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting — which is being held after 23 years.
Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said security, trade and commerce, development agenda and hydro projects will be discussed during Swaraj’s visit. Nepal is also planning to hold an ‘expert groups meeting’ before Swaraj arrives to finalise its view on a draft sent by India on cooperation in the power sector.
Nepal had taken exception to provisions in the draft — in particular that the two sides “shall cooperate in effective harnessing of Nepal’s hydro-power potential through facilitation and speedy construction of hydroelectric power projects in Nepal, either with 100 per cent Indian investments or joint venture with Indian entities”.
The provision was criticised as India’s attempt to limit Nepal’s right to solicit the involvement of non-Indian companies in offering better conditions. But the Indian Embassy here, and Ambassador Ranjit Rae promptly clarified the issue by saying it was just a draft and Nepal was free to have its views. They also said Nepal had sovereign rights over its water.
Besides exploring the possibility of the two countries working together on power generation and transmission, the two sides are likely to discuss the replacement of worn out or missing border pillars, replacement of the old extradition treaty and the Mutual Legal Assistance agreement.
Meanwhile, the PMO confirmed that Modi will visit Nepal from August 3 to 5.