Kathmandu, April 20 (IANS) Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will be visiting India from May 9 on her first foreign visit since assuming the office of the head of the state last October.
Initially, the president had expressed interest in attending the Simhastha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain city of Madhya Pradesh. This was communicated to the Indian side which, wishing to play host to the Nepali head of state, converted the visit to an official one, officials privy to the matter told IANS.
Bhandari would, therefore, be visiting India on the invitation of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Preparations are underway for her India visit, said officials, adding that the two back-to-back visits — by President Bhandari in May and Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli in March — are expected to boost bilateral ties that touched a new low after the promulgation of the new constitution in September last year.
There could be two reasons behind making the visit official — one because she is the first woman president of Nepal and the second that she was elected to the top office post-promulgation of the new constitution.
In her two-leg visit, she will reach New Delhi on May 9 and the following day would be meeting senior Indian officials and leaders, said sources.
She would meet President Pranab Mukharjee on May 10 at Rashtrapati Bhawan, according to the preliminary itinerary.
On the same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other Indian leaders will call on President Bhandari in New Delhi.
After her meetings and engagements in New Delhi, the Nepal president will fly to Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, to take part in the Simhastha Kumbh Mela where state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other senior officials will meet her.
The details of the visit, size of the delegation and other preparations are yet to be worked out, said officials.
The previous president, Ram Baran Yadav, paid two official and one state visit to India but none of the Indian presidents has visited Nepal since 1998.
K.R. Narayanan was the last president to visit India in 1998.
(Anil Giri can be contacted at email@example.com)