The Narendra Modi Government has given Nepal iron clad assurances that India will be among the first countries to receive twin Covid-19 vaccines, which will be announced in the coming week. This assurance was conveyed to Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali during his visit to New Delhi to the Joint Meeting of the Commission with Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar.
While the political detractors of Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli has portrayed Gyawali’s visit as a damp squib, fact is that interlocutors of Nepalese foreign minister in New Delhi were impressed by his professionalism and sobriety with which he approached the bilateral relationship. Gyawali could not meet PM Modi as the Indian PM was totally involved in the launch of Covid-19 vaccines on January 16, according to top government sources. It was only due to PM’s prior commitments that Gyawali was received by defence minister Rajnath Singh, who is number two in the Modi government.
It is understood that India will be taking care of emergency requirements of its friends by supply vaccines for restricted use to priority neighbourhood countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives apart from Nepal with supply schedule being worked out now.
According to government interlocutors, Gyawali briefed EAM Jaishankar on the readiness in Nepal to receive an Indian vaccine with the Nepal regulator to grant approval during a foreign official visit. The two countries are now in the process of discussing the training of medical modules to vaccinate Nepalese front-line workers during a restricted period of use. Nepal has a total of 2,67,056 cases of Covid-19, with as many as 1,954 people losing their lives as a result of a pandemic that originated in China.
During Gyawali’s visit the two sides agreed to gradually open the air and land route connectivity, which had been hit by the pandemic. The two countries agreed to expedite the field location survey related to the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line.
While India-Nepal decided to deepen defence cooperation by closer military to military cooperation, Rajnath Singh also offered to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and capacity building to the Oli Government.
“There were no acrimonious notes during Gyawali’s visit with the visitor taking a very responsible view of the bilateral relationship,” said one of the officials present in the bilateral meetings.

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