India, Nepal agree to advance mutual cooperation

Top diplomats of India, Nepal discuss boundary dispute

Shringla began his two-day official visit to Nepal on Thursday

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

Top diplomats of India and Nepal on Thursday discussed the boundary dispute, which Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s government in Kathmandu ratcheted up earlier this year.

New Delhi also assured Kathmandu that India would consider the requirement of Nepal on priority when it would be in a position to export the Covid-19 vaccine doses.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and his counterpart in Nepalese Government, Bharat Raj Paudyal, had a meeting in Kathmandu and shared perspectives about the boundary dispute. They discussed 'ways to take it forward' through 'appropriate bilateral mechanism', sources in New Delhi said.

Shringla also called on Oli and Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali after arriving in Kathmandu earlier on Thursday for a two-day visit. He handed over 2,000 vials of Remdesivir to the Nepalese Minister for Foreign Affairs as a gift from India for treatment of the Covid-19 patients in the neighbouring country.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nepalese Government said that Shringla and Paudyal discussed the 'boundary matters and exchanged views on completing the boundary (settlement and demarcation) work in the remaining segments'.

New Delhi’s relations with Kathmandu came under stress after the Oli Government lodged protest over a new 80-kilometer-long road was built from Dharchula in Uttarakhand to the Lipulekh Pass – an India-Nepal-China tri-junction boundary point. It alleged that the road passed through Nepal – a claim dismissed by India.

Kathmandu, however, went ahead, published a new map, which showed nearly 400 sq kms of India’s areas in Kalapani, Lipulekh Pass and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal. It also got the Nepalese Parliament amend the country’s constitution to endorse the new map.

New Delhi suspects that Beijing nudged Kathmandu to ratchet up India-Nepal territorial dispute amid the military stand-off along India-China disputed boundary in eastern Ladakh.

Shringla’s visit to Kathmandu was the second high-level visit from India to Nepal this month. The Chief of Indian Army, Gen M M Naravane, visited Kathmandu earlier this month.

New Delhi used the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Kathmandu to underline the 'special relations' between India and Nepal and to stress on 'the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities', sources said.

The two sides also discussed on specific measures that could be taken to finalise key projects funded or proposed by the Government of India in Nepal at the earliest, including the Pancheshwar Multi-purpose Project, as well as launch of new economic initiatives.