India and Nepal discuss the question of boundaries
India and Nepal on Thursday discussed ways to handle the boundary issue, which had recently affected bilateral relations, through existing mechanisms when Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla met with the country’s top leaders to bolster cooperation in key areas such as connectivity and infrastructure.
Shringla met with Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal on the first day of his two-day visit with the aim of bringing the relationship into balance and enhance joint efforts for post-Covid-19 recovery. .
Ties were affected when Nepal issued a new political map in May claiming the Kalapani region, which is controlled by India, after New Delhi broke new ground into the strategic Lipulekh region. India rejected the map but said it was willing to discuss the matter through the appropriate mechanisms.
A person familiar with the events said, on condition of anonymity, that Shringla’s discussions with Oli included a “candid review of the state of the bilateral relationship.” The importance of respecting each other’s sensibilities was noted and both parties highlighted the positive aspects of the special relationship, the person said.
During the various meetings, the two parties “shared their views on border issues and discussed ways to carry it out under the appropriate bilateral mechanisms,” the person added.
A statement issued by the Nepal Foreign Ministry said Shringla and Paudyal “discussed the boundary issues and exchanged views on how to complete the boundary work in the remaining segments.”
Almost 98% of the 1,770 km India-Nepal border is demarcated and the two sides only have differences in the Kalapani and Susta regions.
Much of Shringla’s discussions focused on bilateral development projects, including key connectivity schemes and post-earthquake reconstruction work, and ways to accelerate their implementation. In the meeting with Oli, specific steps were discussed that could help finalize major projects at the earliest, including the Pancheshwar multi-use project and the launch of new economic initiatives.
Specific meetings were also discussed to maintain high-level engagement and address issues of mutual interest. The need to resume people-to-people contacts, including the launch of an air bubble between India and Nepal, also figures in the talks.
At the meeting with Foreign Minister Gyawali, Shringla handed over more than 2,000 vials of Remdesivir injections as part of India’s support for efforts to combat Covid-19. Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India will use its vaccine manufacturing capabilities for the world, Shringla said: “We will make this vaccine accessible and affordable and it goes without saying that the first priority will be for our neighbors more close, our friends like Nepal. ”
Shringla, who spoke to the media in Nepali, described India and Nepal as “close friends” and said their meetings were aimed at seeing how the two sides can move the relationship forward. Shringla also called President Bidya Devi Bhandari and met with delegations from the Nepalese Congress and Madhesh leaders.
On Friday, Shringla will host a virtual talk hosted by the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs. He will visit Gorkha district to open three rebuilt schools with the help of India and will remotely inaugurate an Indian-funded project to renovate Tashop Gompa monastery in Manang district.