Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, met Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, for a three-day visit in Delhi, where the nations signed a host of agreements to strengthen their ties, even as the Himalayan country develops close bonds with India’s rival, China

This is Deuba’s first foreign trip since becoming Nepal’s PM after the Communist government in Kathmandu fell last year. 

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The two leaders discussed the bilateral relations and later virtually waved flags at the inaugural run of passenger train services between the neighbouring countries. At a joint news briefing, the two announced plans to deepen cross-border engagement. 

In the shadow of China

Deuba’s visit comes at a time when strategic experts in Delhi are concerned about India’s slipping influence over Nepal, as per the Associated Press. China, meanwhile, has been asserting clout, showering Nepal with infrastructure development investments, and assisting the nation with millions of COVID vaccines during the pandemic. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited Kathmandu. 

Wooed on all sides 

Deuba’s visit to India comes amid Chinese help and Nepal giving the nod to a half-billion-dollar aid grant from the US, in an effort to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

A chance for India 

However, Deuba has kept the Nepalese tradition alive where prime ministers of the nation visit India soon after taking office. The southern neighbouring country has major economic and political influence over Nepal. 

This visit has given Deuba the chance to build relations with Indian political leaders and allowed the world’s largest democracy to show its clout. 

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India has done so by addressing Nepal’s economy and aiding the nation’s power needs. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla spoke after the heads of nations met, saying “For power trade, PM conveyed to Nepal PM Deuba that their power export proposals have been cleared; will contribute to Nepal’s economic prosperity. There was also a renewed commitment by both sides to move forward with Pancheshwar project”, ANI reported. 

India surrounds Nepal on three sides as the nations have open borders allowing free movement without visas and passports. Nepal imports most of its food, oil, and supplies from India as well.