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India and Nepal agree to promote relations as Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla meets with top leaders of Nepal India News

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KATHMANDU: India and Nepal on Thursday agreed to step up efforts to promote mutual cooperation when Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and held “productive” talks with his Nepalese counterpart on a wide range of issues, including the border problem.
Shringla received a warm welcome on his first visit to Nepal at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, amid tension in bilateral relations following a bitter border dispute.
He paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Oli during which they discussed a wide range of issues, including the border issue, said the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Rajan Bhattarai.
He said that the Indian Foreign Secretary has come up with a positive message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to advance Nepal-India relations.
“Nepal and India enjoy multidimensional relationships, although there are some problems,” Prime Minister Oli quoted Shringla as saying.
Nepal is in favor of solving the problems through dialogue with a view to taking friendly relations to a new level, said Oli, who is also the defense minister.
“There are some unresolved issues left by history and I am confident that we can resolve them through dialogue to move our relations forward,” Oli said.
The sources said the Foreign Secretary’s discussions with Prime Minister Oli included a candid review of the state of the bilateral relationship and the potential to bring India and Nepal even closer together.
Discussions were held about specific measures that could be taken to finalize key projects as soon as possible, including the Pancheshwar Multi-Purpose Project, as well as to launch new economic initiatives, the sources said.
They also discussed specific meetings that could be scheduled to maintain high-level engagement and address issues of mutual concern. The need to resume people-to-people contacts was also discussed, including the beginning of an air travel bubble between India and Nepal.
Oli thanked Shringla for India’s help during the Covid pandemic. Shringla assured him that the Nepal requirement would be given priority, the sources said.
The two sides highlighted the special relations between India and Nepal and the importance of respecting the sensitivities of others. Both parties felt they should focus on the positives of the broad relationship, the sources said.
Shringla conveyed India’s interest in deepening economic ties, promoting connectivity, expanding partnership for development, and strengthening people-to-people, particularly youth.
He informed Prime Minister Oli about the many projects financed by India, which benefit all sectors of Nepalese society. He invited Nepal to take advantage of the Indian market and economic growth.
Later, he paid a courtesy visit to President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the Rashtrapati Bhawan and briefed her on the state of bilateral relations and recent events, the sources said.
Shringla also called Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and handed him over 2,000 vials of the anti-virus drug Remdesivir as part of India’s ongoing assistance to Nepal to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the foreign secretary met with his Nepalese counterpart and had a “very productive and useful exchange” with him.
“We had a very productive and useful exchange,” Shringla told the media.
“The large number of bilateral cooperation issues that we go through, shows the multifaceted and comprehensive nature of our cooperation. We both agreed on several steps to advance in some areas of cooperation, in very good progress in the commitments made by the leadership and looking at some other initiatives. that could happen, “he said.
The sources said that both sides took stock of the various projects and other ongoing activities, and identified measures to accelerate them. Shringla highlighted the progress made on commitments made during Prime Minister Modi’s visit and on other occasions.
Both sides shared their perspectives on border issues and discussed ways to carry them forward under the appropriate bilateral mechanisms, they said.
The Nepalese Foreign Ministry said the two foreign secretaries held bilateral talks in an “atmosphere of utmost cordiality and friendship.”
“We have a very strong relationship. Our effort will be to see how we can advance that relationship,” Shringla told reporters.
The two sides “reviewed various aspects of relations between Nepal and India covering trade, transit, connectivity, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, investment, culture, people-to-people relations, among others,” he said. the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal.
“They also discussed boundary issues and exchanged views on how to complete boundary work in the remaining segments,” he said.
Later, Shringla met with delegations from the Nepalese Congress and Madhesh leaders.
Earlier this month, the Indian army chief, General MM Naravane, traveled to Nepal on a three-day visit during which he held talks with top leaders of Nepal. His visit was largely aimed at reestablishing bilateral ties that came under severe strain after a bitter border dispute.
Ties between the two countries were strained after Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-kilometer highway in May connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.
Days later, Nepal presented a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
India reacted strongly, calling it a “unilateral act” and warning Nepal that such an “artificial expansion” of land claims will not be acceptable to it.

Times of India

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