NEW DELHI: Nepal will carry out its second joint military exercise with China, Sagarmatha, next month in a development being closely watched here. Nepal’s military diplomacy with Beijing remains a concern for India even as the neighbouring country treads cautiously on its foreign policy.

Official sources here confirmed that Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s junior alliance partner P K Dahal Prachanda will visit India next month, days before he visits China. Similarly, even Oli had visited India before he travelled to China after taking over as PM earlier this year.

Nepal had for the first time in April last year engaged in a joint military drill with China. Sensing India’s concerns, it had scaled down the exercise at the last moment. According to Nepal army, the first-ever joint exercise with China was meant to prepare Nepal to tackle the emerging threat from terrorism.

The drill this year, Sagarmatha Friendship-2, will be held in Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province. This year again though, not more than 15 personnel from each side are expected to participate in the exercise. Nepal has been conducting battalion-level exercises named ‘Surya Kiran’ with the Indian Army for the last 13 years, engaging some 300 personnel from both sides.

For Indian officials, though, the visit of ex-PM Prachanda, who will be here from September 7 to 12, is another sign after Oli’s visit that fears of any drastic shift in Nepal’s foreign policy under the united Communist government are unfounded. “The dates for former PM Prachanda’s visit to India have been confirmed. He will visit India from September 7 to12. After returning from India, he will leave for China on September 17 for a week,” said an official statement.