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Boundary teams set date for New Delhi meeting

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, NEW DELHI

Jun 5, 2016-After a hiatus of two years, Nepal and India are set to begin high-level talks to resolve the long-standing boundary dispute between the two countries.

According to officials, the second meeting of the Boundary Working Group formed in 2014 is taking place on June 19-20 in New Delhi. The BWG is responsible for construction, restoration and repair of border pillars, including the clearing of the no-man’s-land. There are also preparations to organise a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries to resolve the border disputes in Kalapani and Susta.

At the BWG meeting, reports prepared by the Survey Officials’ Committee and the Field Survey Team will be presented. The reports are related to repair, maintenance and upgradation of border pillars and encroachment on the no-man’s-land from both sides. Both the teams have expedited tasks since 2014 on the technical problems except on Kalapani and Susta. Nepal and India have erected a total of 8,553 pillars along the border, of which 1,325 are missing and 1,956 are damaged.

Works on settling the boundary disputes were stalled after 2007 but strip maps were prepared except for Kalapani and Susta. After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit in 2014, the two sides agreed to expedite efforts to sort the differences. During Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Nepal later, the two sides agreed to form the BWG, led by the chief surveyors of the two countries. The first meeting of the BWG was held in September, 2014 in Kathmandu.

On the issues of Kalapani and Susta, then prime minister Sushil Koirala and Indian PM Narendra Modi agreed to direct their foreign secretaries to continue the work. However, there have been no substantial talks between the foreign secretaries.

The Indian side is pressing for early signing of the “agreed and initialled strip maps”. India argues that talks on Susta and Kalapani could be continued after signing the agreed matters first. Nepal, however, maintains that all the issues should be resolved together. “If the two major issues are left out now, there may be fresh complications to resolve them,” said Nepali officials requesting anonymity.

 

Published: 05-06-2016 09:10

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