National

No deal for BIMSTEC military drill: Gyawali

  • Indian proposal was ‘rejected by other members’
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu
The House committee had summoned Minister Gyawali to inquire about the controversial exercise

Sep 8, 2018-Less than three days before the first joint military exercise of the armies of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member countries starts in Pune, India, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali said there has been no deal on the drill because other member states, including Nepal, opposed it.

Briefing the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations on Friday, Gyawali said India had prioritised the issue during the fourth BIMSTEC Summit held last week in Kathmandu. However, no deal was made as other members stood firm on the agenda. “India was free to float the agenda, but we did not endorse it,” he told the House Committee, arguing that BIMSTEC is purely a developmental forum which does not prioritise military pact.

Though Gyawali claimed there had been no agreement, he refrained from explaining how the Nepal Army (NA) agreed to participate in the exercise.

The House committee had summoned Minister Gyawali to inquire about the controversial exercise.Officials, both from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post on Wednesday that the NA did not seek permission before deciding to participate in the drill.

Cross-party leaders had raised their concerns against the exercise after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address at fourth BIMSTEC summit, welcomed Nepal’s presence in the drill.

The six-day drill that focuses on anti-terrorism will see the participation of 30 army personnel each from the seven member states.

Although three Nepal Army officials are already in Pune, the participation of the full squad is under doubt following the controversy. Army officials from all member states participated in the planning conference of the exercise held in the third week of June. The exercise that commences on Monday concludes with the conclave of the Chiefs of Army Staffs from member states on September 16.

Published: 08-09-2018 07:37

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