Nepal, India agree to hold joint committee meeting soon

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jan 11, 2019-

Nepal and India have agreed to convene the fifth meeting of the Joint Commission at Foreign Minister level in Kathmandu to resolve outstanding bilateral issues.

Visiting Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj agreed to convene the meeting at earliest during their meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, the two sides said in their press statements. Gyawali had reached the Indian capital on Thursday to participate in the fourth edition of Raisina Dialogue as one of the keynote speakers.

The joint commission meeting, 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 Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) report on Nepal-India relations, among others.

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. The meeting will also discuss the directives of two prime ministers during Indian 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.

There has been progress on some 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. Both sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on the initial survey of the Kathmandu-Raxaul Railway Project.

But 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.

It is said that the meeting is likely to take place in February.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs of India, the two ministers reiterated their commitment to maintain the new momentum and further the traditionally close and friendly ties between the two countries. Gyawali extended an invitation to Swaraj to visit Nepal to co-chair the next meeting of the Joint Commission, the MEA statement reads.

Published: 11-01-2019 09:02

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