Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti on May 16.
He is also set to meet Prime Minister Nepali Sher Bahadur Deuba and other high-level government officials there.
Modi and Deuba are set to hold a meeting on a wide range of bilateral issues, particularly connectivity and hydropower projects between the two countries.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two prime ministers will hold bilateral talks and exchange views on Nepal-India cooperation and matters of mutual interests. Deuba will also host a luncheon in honor of Modi and the visiting Indian delegation.
“The upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of India will contribute to further strengthening the bilateral relations and the age-old socio-cultural bonds between the two countries,” says the ministry.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs says Modi’s visit continues the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between India and Nepal “in furtherance of our neighborhood first policy”.
“It underscores the shared civilizational heritage of the people of both countries,” the Indian foreign ministry says.
Modi and Deuba, however, are unlikely to discuss contentious bilateral issues, such as the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) and boundary disputes.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra told the media recently that there are established bilateral mechanisms to address the boundary issues.
"In so far as the border discussions between the two countries are concerned, as you all know, there are established bilateral mechanisms which exist between them," Kwatra said.
"We have always maintained that they are the best way forward in discussing those issues, discussing responsibly without real politicization of those issues. That is subject which will essentially be in the score of those established bilateral mechanisms."
In 2014, Nepal and India had agreed to settle the border disputes through a mechanism led by foreign secretaries of the two countries but there have not been any meetings.
Modi’s Nepal visit comes on the heels of Deuba’s India visit from April 1 to 3. Kwatra said the fact that a return visit is taking place in such close succession is “a reflection of the closeness of our high-level exchanges as well as of the upward trajectory in our mutually beneficial partnership.”
On the EPG report, the Indian Foreign Secretary said the report will be reviewed once it is submitted. Though the panel prepared its report in 2018, the Indian side is yet to receive it.
Kwatra also said conversations between the two leaders will pick up from where they left off last month when Deuba visited New Delhi and would “no doubt cover all elements of our bilateral engagement.”
During Modi’s visit to Lumbini, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, the two prime ministers will also participate in a prayer ceremony at the Mayadevi Temple, and lay the foundation stone for the construction of a center for Buddhist culture and heritage at the Monastic Zone in Lumbini.
They will also address the special ceremony to celebrate the birth of Buddha at the Lumbini International Buddhist Meditation Center and Assembly Hall.
This will be Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal since he became prime minister in 2014. Modi paid a State Visit to Nepal from 11 to 12 May 2018, he visited Nepal the same year in August to participate in 4th BIMSTEC Summit. In 2014 August, he paid an official visit to Nepal and visited Nepal the same year to participate in the 18thSAARC Summit.