Nepal's finance minister to visit India


Nepal's finance minister to visit India

Nepal's finance minister Bishnu Poudel will visit India early next month to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister KP Oli's maiden foreign trip to the country.

Poudel is scheduled to travel to India at the invitation of the Indian government, finance ministry sources said here.

The main purpose of the visit, likely to take place from February 7-9, will be to lay the groundwork for the upcoming trip of Prime Minister Oli, they said.

Poudel will meet his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with other top officials.

His visit comes amid speculation over Oli's travel to India after his remarks this week that it would not be appropriate for him to make a trip to the country until the "border blockade" ends.

Oli is expected to travel to New Delhi next month on his first foreign visit as Prime Minister. Earlier, there had also been speculation that the Communist leader could visit China ahead of India.

During his telephonic conversation with Oli a couple of months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to visit India at an appropriate time.

Nepal government has alleged that the "border embargo" had been imposed by the Indian government, a claim which India has denied. India has made clear that the obstruction in the movement of goods through the Indo-Nepal border was due to the protests by the Madhesis.

Nepal is facing an acute shortage of cooking gas, petroleum products, medicines and other essential goods due to the five-month-long blockade of key border trade points with India as a result of the protests by the Madhesis.

Madhesis are continuing their protests even after Nepal parliament last Saturday voted to amend the country's Constitution with a two-thirds majority four months after its promulgation, in a bid to resolve the political crisis.

The amendments addressed two key demands of the Madhesis -- proportionate representation and seat allocation in the Parliament on the basis of population.

Madhesis have rejected as "incomplete" the constitutional amendments passed by the Parliament for failing to address their concerns over redrawing borders.

The agitating Madhesi community that shares strong cultural and family bonds with India is demanding demarcation of provinces, fixing of electoral constituencies on the basis of population and proportional representation. At least 55 people have been killed in the protests.


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