Will revival of stalled SAARC summit be PM Oli’s agenda during his India visit?


KATHMANDU, April 1: Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is scheduled to make his first state visit—since assuming office in February 15– to India from April 6-8.

As the red carpet is being laid to Prime Minister Oli, New Delhi is eager to revive the excellent ties with Kathmandu, which roughened particularly after the 2015 economic blockade which took place following the constitution promulgation.

And, with carrying the hopes of Nepali people’s aspiration of economic development and prosperity on shoulder, Oli will be heading to India chiefly carrying the agendas of economic significance.

Meanwhile, the government officials are busy preparing agendas of Oli’s visit, which will basically include expediting the implementation of the past agreements inked between the two countries.

They said that the Prime Minister have directed them to prepare a brief agenda since Oli is in favor to expedite implementation of the past agreements and ink a few new ones that can bring positive change in people’s lives.

Sources at Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers say that the talks with Indian Prime Minister Modi will be focused on removing hurdles in the slow-moving and pending projects.

Beside the economic agendas, Prime Minister Oli is keen to move ahead with the SAARC and is likely to discuss the possibility of holding the SAARC summit later this year in Islambad, said the Times of India.

The 19th SAARC summit was scheduled in November 15-16, 2016 in Islamabad. But the event could not take place after India decided to boycott it following the terror attack on an army camp in Uri, which left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka subsequently pulled out expressing concerns over escalation of terrorism in the region and saying the environment was not conducive to successfully holding the 19th SAARC summit.

Pakistan postponed the summit and announced the new dates would be fixed soon. But it did not happen.

Nepal was the only nation not to pull out of the event, since it was the chair (and current chair) of the summit.

Various sources put that Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi’s recent visit to Nepal, first by any Prime Minister after Oli came to power, was mostly about getting Kathmandu’s support for the summit was Islamabad wants  to host at the earliest.

The Times of India further said, “After Abbasi’s meeting with Oli this month, the latter’s chief political advisor Bishnu Rimal was quoted as having said that both leaders held a common view on taking the SAARC forum ahead as it was a common platform for all member-countries and still significant.

“They also emphasized on resolving any issue of difference in SAARC through dialogue and discussion,” he had said.

For India though it is important to ensure that the summit is not held under pressure from China which is apparently keen that the event be held soon, the Times wrote.

However there was no official proposal to hold the summit soon, according to officials. And the summit cannot be held if India boycotts it.

And, Nepal is in favor of “a conducive environment be created soon to ensure the participation of all member states in the 19th SAARC summit in line with the spirit of the SAARC charter.”