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EPG likely to seek one month term extension

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
The Indian side has given two reasons for added tenure: Health condition of one of its EPG members and need for top level consultations on outcome of the report

Jun 4, 2018-The  Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) on Nepal-India relations, which is tasked with suggesting new ways of bilateral relations and reporting to both the governments, is likely to seek a one-month term extension at the request of the Indian side.

Though an official decision has not been taken yet, the Indian side unofficially floated the proposal to the Nepali side ahead of the ninth EPG meeting slated to be held on July 1-2 in Kathmandu. The meeting was expected to set the tone for a joint EPG report and work on the final report before the group’s tenure ends on July 4.

The panel has to submit a joint report to both the governments, suggesting the future course of bilateral relations concerning water resources, trade and commerce, transit, people-to-people relations and border management, among others.

According to sources privy to the developments, the Indian side has specified two reasons for the term extension: health condition of one of its EPG members who is recovering from a heart attack and consultations with the highest authority of India on the possible outcome of the report that is likely to suggest both the governments review some crucial accords and treaties between the two neighbours, including the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

The Indian side appears positive on reviewing the Treaty, but the proposal made by the Nepali side on replacing some its articles and another proposal on border and boundary management should be cleared at the top political level on both sides, which is likely to take some time, said a source.

The Cabinets of Nepal and India should take a decision after the two sides make a formal request to their respective governments for extension of EPG’s tenure.

During the first EPG meeting held in Kathmandu on July 4, 2016, both governments had provided the EGP a two-year non-extendable mandate while approving

its terms of reference for reviewing all past accords and treaties.

The group is likely to seek its term extension due to some technical reasons, said Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, EPG coordinator of the Nepali side, but both sides are trying their best to finalise the report in the next meeting in Kathmandu on July 1-2.

“We have completed our homework and prepared to submit report by July 5 or any other date convenient to either side,” Thapa said.

“If a short extension gives a tangible result and enables us to conclude two-year-long efforts, we should go for it. There is no official proposal yet. So, we are trying our best to agree on a joint report at the upcoming meeting in Kathmandu,” he said, adding that the Indian side was informally pitching for a term extension.

A senior Indian Embassy official told the Post that the EPG is all set to seek a term extension with both governments, but due to its autonomy they are not allowed to speak on the behalf of the panel.

“We have completed the task from our side and are looking to Indian response,” said another Nepali member of the group. “If the extension can help resolve problems dogging the two neighbours for the past 70 years. We have to agree on that.”

Published: 04-06-2018 07:34

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