Sushma Swaraj arrives in Kathmandu

Kathmandu: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived here on Thursday on a two-day visit to participate in the 15th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting.

The visit comes ahead of Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba`s proposed visit to India beginning August 23.

Besides taking part in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) meeting, Sushma Swaraj will meet Deuba, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, opposition leader K.P. Oli, Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” and Madhes-based leaders.

Officials said Sushma Swaraj will also take stock of latest political developments in Nepal.

Deuba will inaugurate the ministerial meeting on Thursday evening which will be attended by the Foreign Ministers of Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Deputy Foreign Ministers of Myanmar and Thailand will also be participating in the event.

The 18th Session of the BIMSTEC senior officials` meeting kicked off in the capital on Thursday morning.

India`s position on BIMSTEC is crucial, said a Nepali official.

Nepal is the current chair of the regional grouping and the member states will also discuss fixing the date of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Nepal later this year.

Among the top agenda of the BIMSTEC meeting are finalising the free trade agreement among the member states. They will negotiate market access for professionals, reducing the duty cuts on trading goods and other items, among others.