Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Nepal earlier this week, the first by an Indian prime minister in 17 years, ushered in a new chapter in relations between the two neighbors. The two-day visit on Aug. 3-4 has been described by media in both countries as a success and reflects Modi’s interest in forging better ties with neighbors since he assumed power in May. He is the first Indian prime minister to invite the leaders of all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations, including Pakistan, to his swearing-in on May 26. In June, he visited Bhutan, India’s friendly neighbor to the northeast, on his first foreign trip.
This week, Modi charmed India’s other Himalayan neighbor with a rousing address in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly—the first by a foreign leader. He announced a soft loan of $1 billion and promised several infrastructure development projects. He also met with various political and business leaders, and made a pilgrimage to the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu.
However, the restoration of high-level political engagement between the two countries is arguably the most important development.