Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli will begin a six-day trip to India with an aim to mend bilateral ties that have soured in recent months. However, during his first foreign trip since taking power in October, Oli is not expected to sign any long-term agreements, according to media reports.
“We all know that in the last few months there have been many misunderstandings between our two countries,” Oli told reporters in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu Thursday. “We now want to get our relationship back on track.”
During his trip, Oli will meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
“This visit is not meant to compromise on our interest or against India, but to explore our journey towards prosperity together… I have the fortune of political consensus, sense of unity and collective determination endorsing our visit,” Oli reportedly said. “I am not expecting to come back home bag-full, but I definitely will want our friendship reoriented on mutual trust and respect.”
The visit comes a week after a nearly five-month blockade on the India-Nepal border was lifted, and just months after the impoverished nation adopted a new constitution. Provisions within the document, which defines Hindu-majority nation as a secular republic divided into seven federal provinces, has been criticized by New Delhi for not being broad-based and inclusive enough.
Relations between the landlocked Himalayan nation and its larger neighbor began deteriorating after India asked Nepal to amend the constitution adopted last September to address the grievances of the historically marginalized groups, such as Madhesis, who have close ethnic ties to north India.
Over the past six months, Kathmandu has consistently accused India of interfering in its internal matters, imposing an unofficial blockade, and stoking unrest within its borders. India, on its part, has denied the allegations and blamed Nepal trying to “play the China card” cozying up to Beijing, which has, in recent months, jostling for influence in the region through aid and investment.
“There is no question of playing a card for one against the other. We want to develop friendly relations with both our great neighbors on the basis of mutual respect and benefit,” Oli said Thursday.