NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar kickstarted his first foreign trip in 2024 with a visit to Nepal. The trip which is a two-day official visit saw Jaishankar meet with his counterpart N.P. Saud for the India-Nepal Joint Commission meeting. Set up in 1987, the Joint Commission, which is the highest-level political mechanism between Nepal and India to take stock of the state of the bilateral relationship, saw New Delhi and Kathmandu ink four key agreements and MoUs which included a long-term power trade agreement, support for community development projects, the launch of a satellite developed by Nepal, and assistance for renewable energy development.
Taking to Twitter post the meeting, Jaishankar stated that the two foreign ministers “had a comprehensive and productive meeting of the 7th India-Nepal Joint Commission. The discussions focused on our overall bilateral ties, trade and economic relations, land, rail, and air connectivity projects, cooperation in defence and security, agriculture, energy, power, water resources, disaster management, tourism, civil aviation, people-to-people contact, cultural exchanges and development partnership.”
One of the major announcements at the meeting was a grant of NPR 1,000 crore by India to Nepal. The grant was to enable the Himalayan nation’s reconstruction bid post the earthquake in Nepal. According to Amrit Rai, spokesperson for Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, India has also agreed on Rs 10 billion financial aid to Nepal for the reconstruction of Jajarkot and Rukum West, which were the worst hit areas by the earthquake in November.
On the power sector, both sides announced that the long power trade agreement will enable Nepal to reach 10,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity to India in the coming 10 years. Experts predict Nepal has the capacity to reach 42,000 MW but currently lacks the infrastructure and technical expertise to do so. As far as small development projects are concerned New Delhi had currently been providing Rs 5 crore, a budget that has now been increased to Rs 20 crore.
Jaishankar also called on Nepal President Ramchandra Paudel and Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ before the Joint Commission meeting. Tweeting post their meeting, the Nepali PM said that he was happy to welcome the Indian foreign minister to his country and stated that both of them had “exchanged substantive views on age-old, unique, and multifaceted Nepal-India relations.”