S Jaishankar turns table on China in Nepal

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India and Nepal inked a major pact on Thursday under which Kathmandu will sell 10,000 Megawatts of power to New Delhi in the course of the next 10 years. This pact is seen as a major template to give a depth to the economy of Nepal.

EAM S Jaishankar with Nepal FM NP Saud

EAM S Jaishankar with Nepal FM NP Saud

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, January 4: External Affairs Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar in his first foreign visit of the year to Nepal has seemingly taken the strategic fight head-on with China. In the backdrop of reports of China pressuring Nepal to become a partner in the Belt and Road Initiative, Jaishankar oversaw the Indian and the Nepalese sides inking pacts to give a quantum jump to the bilateral relations.

On a fay when Jaishankar was holding talks with the leadership of Nepal, India reiterated that relations with China are not normal. India and China are locked in protracted negotiations for over three and a half years in the aftermath of the violent Galwan clash in the eastern Ladakh.

India and Nepal inked a major pact on Thursday under which Kathmandu will sell 10,000 Megawatts of power to New Delhi in the course of the next 10 years. This pact is seen as a major template to give a depth to the economy of Nepal. Under the watch of the two foreign ministers, Jaishankar and NP Saud, the officials of the power department inked the agreement on power transmission. The Indian power major NTPC will also work in the area of the renewable energy in Nepal.

India also inked a pact with Nepal to extend an aid of Rs 10 billion to Nepal for the reconstruction of the earthquake hit Jajarkot and Rukum West. Besides the commercial arm of the ISRO, NewSpace India Limited will partner with the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. This partnership will work for the launch of the Nepalese satellites. The ISRO has gained world fame with a series of space missions, including the successful Chandrayaan-3, which have become an additional pivot in the Indian outreach with the developing countries for the cooperation in the space sector.

While the local reports in Nepal claimed that the host may also raise the border issue with India, there were no official words yet on Kathmandu raising the contentious issue. A section of the diplomatic community claims that Nepal under the pressure of China had raised the border issue with India in the past which is now being kept under the carpet.

Jaishankar was received warmly in Kathmandu as his counterpart Saud received him at the airport. Jaishankar during a conversation at ORF over the launch of his book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ had spotlighted the India’s neighbourhood policy as a success template in the foreign affairs in the last 10 years with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm. Jaishankar had also mentioned that India for the first time raised the stakes in the neighbourhood by extending an assistance of $4 billion to Sri Lanka when the island nation announced a sovereign default.

Jaishankar’s choice of the first visit to Nepal in 2024 appears strategic amid reports of heartburns in the Himalayan nation over China allegedly inflating the cost of the construction of the Pokhara International Airport, which was built by a Chinese construction company. Chinese ambassador in Nepal Chen Song had rung alarm bells in Kathmandu by claiming that the Pokahara International Airport was built as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Nepal had officially denied his claim, saying that the country is not yet part of the BRI.   

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