Nepal, India to convene joint commission meeting

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Nov 6, 2018-

Nepal and India are all set to hold fifth meeting of Nepal-India Joint Commission in Kathmandu at Foreign Ministers level on second week of December as several bilateral issues are still in limbo.

The joint commission meeting which is the highest political mechanism between two countries is expected to provide fresh inputs and directives in bilateral ties in the backdrop of Nepal’s last-minute withdrawal from BIMSTEC Joint Military Exercise and India’s reluctance to receive the report of Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) on Nepal-India Relations, among others.    

The meeting is scheduled for mid-December in Kathmandu and both sides are working on finalising the dates, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali confirmed. “All outstanding issues, including the EPG report and its early implementation will be discussed. We are working on it,” he said.

Gyawali will represent Nepal while his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj will lead the Indian side at the meeting.  

Foreign Ministry officials said submission of the EPG report to prime ministers of Nepal and India would be discussed during the meeting.

The ninth meeting of the EPG that concluded in Kathmandu on June 30 had prepared a single joint report that will be submitted to the prime ministers of Nepal and India. The two-year tenure of EPG ended on July 4.

The Kathmandu meeting had decided to hand over the report first to Indian PM Modi in New Delhi and then to PM KP Sharma Oli in Kathmadu. EPG members said they had been waiting for PM Modi’s time to submit the report. 

Issues related to boundary and border, security, energy cooperation, expediting the Indian funded projects in Nepal, utilising India’s support for earthquake reconstruction, air routes, among others, will be discussed at the meeting.

According to the Foreign Ministry officials, the meeting will also discuss the directives of two prime ministers during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kathmandu in May this year. The two leaders had agreed to resolve selected outstanding issues by September 19, and directed respective foreign secretaries to take initiatives to that end.

While there has been progress on some of the fronts, such as removal of the Indian field office from Biratnagar; opening up the railway track in Janakpur; completion of an integrated check post in Biratnagar; inland water navigation, among others. Similarly, both sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on the initial survey of the Kathmandu-Raxaul railway project.

However, progress has been dismal on preparation of the detailed project report (DPR) of Pancheshwar Development Authority which is part of the Mahakali Treaty; cross border energy guideline, Nepal Police Academy under Indian assistance, among others.

The joint commission will also review progress in projects covered under the Indian Lines of Credit and their implementation. The two neighbours have yet to settle $750 million Indian soft loan on post-earthquake reconstruction projects in partnership with the government of Nepal, within the inter-governmental framework.

Published: 06-11-2018 10:35

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