Kathmandu: Nepal’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka said on Wednesday that he will work towards maintaining friendly and balanced relations with India and China and forge national consensus with political parties on matters of foreign relations.

Khadka, 72, was sworn in as the Minister for Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Khadka in a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Shital Niwas, in the presence of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Bhandari appointed Khadka the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the recommendation of Prime Minister Deuba.

Talking to reporters after assuming office on Wednesday afternoon, Khadka said he will work towards ensuring extremely friendly, amicable, and balanced relations with both the immediate neighbours India and China.

Arguing that the foreign policy of a country is not specific to any one particular political party, the senior Nepali Congress leader said he will work toward forging national consensus with other political parties on the matters of foreign relations, My Republica website reported.

He also said the issue of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact Agreement will also be resolved keeping in view the country’s larger national interests.

Under the USD 500 million MCC programme, the US government will provide the grant assistance which will be mainly utilised on strengthening Nepal’s transmission line that would facilitate the export of hydro-electricity to India in the near future and also improve the country’s road networks.

Nepal and the United States signed the MCC agreement in 2017. The MCC, however, has become a hotly-debated political issue in this country, with some parties objecting to it on grounds that the US programme is part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and its parliamentary ratification would be against Nepal’s national interest.

Khadka said the agreement will be carefully reviewed in light of some controversies that surfaced around it and a decision will be taken accordingly.

Khadka also announced plans to transform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into a more dynamic institution equipped with modern technologies. He said that the appointment of new ambassadors will begin after his return to Nepal from the United Nations General Assembly.

A Nepali delegation led by Khadka is leaving for New York to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) being held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

He is scheduled to address the General Debate of the 76th UNGA under the theme of Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations, My Republica report said.

He will also participate in ministerial meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA and hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts and officials of the United Nations.

Khadka, is the fifth minister to be appointed in the Deuba government, which was formed on July 13. With Khadka’s appointment, there are now seven ministers in the government, including Deuba and one minister of state.

Khadka has done his Ph.D in Economics from a University in Pune. Prime Minister Deuba has been holding the portfolio till now.

The post of the Foreign Minister had been vacant for more than two months after the formation of the new government led by Deuba. He had served as advisor to then Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in the 1990s. He was also the minister of urban development in 2014.

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