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Why can President’s UAE trip be a costly affair for Nepal?

File: President Bidya Devi Bhandari

Kathmandu, November 13

President Bidya Devi Bhandari is leaving for Abu Dhabi on a four-day official trip to the United Arab Emirates on Monday. Foreign affairs experts, however, have warned that the visit might cost Nepal its neutral position in terms of a recent diplomatic standoff in the Arab world.

A couple of hours before the flight, the Cabinet is approving the plan for a 26-member jumbo team led by the head of the state.

It means the trip will be quite expensive for Nepal. But, experts say the diplomatic cost the trip might cause for Nepal can be much heavier than the financial burden.

Why?

Earlier, the President had received an invitation from Qatar to pay a visit. While the Qatari invitation was yet to be responded, the UAE also extended an invitation to the President last week. And, the visit has been fixed in a haste.

The two Arab countries have been engaged in a diplomatic standoff for last few months and their differences are unlikely to be settled anytime soon.

A source privy to developments informs that the government decided not to respond to Doha citing four countries including the UAE have imposed a sanction on Qatar. So, why was the UAE trip approved as the UAE is also equally involved in the issue?

Some officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say it was because of the President’s wish.

Otherwise, there was no reason to approve the trip in such a haste as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was also against the plan. Some critics have also commented that the visit is inappropriate as the country is heading towards key elections.

The MoFA, in its official statement, however, has defended the visit saying, “The visit of the President is taking place in the year when Nepal and the UAE are marking the 40th year of establishment of diplomatic relations. Matters of mutual interests and bilateral cooperation will be figured in the meetings.”

“The President will also meet Nepali community at a program organized by Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Nepal in Abu Dhabi.”

Meanwhile, a source at the Sheetal Niwas says the President might pay another visit to Qatar to maintain the balance after she returns home from the UAE.

The presidential delegation for the UAE includes Minister Jayanta Chand, Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, the President’s daughter Nisha Kusum Bhandari, some advisors among others.

Bhandari will return home on November 16.


Published on November 13th, Monday, 2017 10:41 AM


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