Nepal, India to resolve key issues by Sept 19

  • ‘India supports unified and prosperous Nepal’
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

May 12, 2018-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi have agreed to resolve selected outstanding issues by September 19, the day the constitution was promulgated in Nepal in 2015. PM Oli made this pledge during a joint address with his Indian counterpart after delegation-level talks here on Friday.

Foreign secretaries of both the countries would take initiatives to resolve the issues, said Oli. According to officials, except for political matters and those currently discussed at the Eminent Persons’ Group on Nepal-India relations, various other matters being taken up by technical committees would be resolved by the date.

Issues related to inundation, bulk cargo movement, problems in trade and transit, four additional air routes for Nepal, integrated check posts, and delays in India-funded projects would be sorted within the deadline.

But, according to officials, the Indian side did not commit to Nepal’s request for the EPG preparing a single report, additional air routes, and exchange of demonetised Indian currency notes held by Nepali banks and financial institutions. Both sides, however, have agreed to dispatch a joint team to observe inundation in the Tarai caused by structures built by India close to the international border.

Addressing the joint press meet, PM Oli said that Nepal wants relations based on equality and mutual respect while expressing hope for the EPG to update bilateral relations in the changed context. PM Oli said he had discussed all the outstanding issues with Modi including more air routes while the focus was on implementation of the agreements and accords reached during his recent visit to New Delhi. The two sides also agreed to start surveys for the proposed inland waterways and Kathmandu-Raxaul railway. The agriculture ministers of the two countries are said to meet in the near future.

PM Oli said that issues of energy banking were discussed while India was urged to amend the proposed cross-border electricity trading guidelines. Nepal is said to have expressed its readiness to build its portion of the proposed Butwal-Gorakhpur transmission line.

PM Oli said the widening trade gap with India was a matter of concern for Nepal, an issue the two prime ministers had an extensive discussion on. Oli also urged the Indian PM to arrange facilities for exchanging the banned IC notes in Nepal.

Both the sides are learnt to have discussed issues related to connectivity. “Neighbours have always been our top priority. We have agreed to take concrete measures to realise the benefits of new partnerships on agriculture and connectivity, by rail and waterways,” said Oli.

Addressing the press conference, Indian PM Modi, while announcing an India-made indigenous radio therapy machine for Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, said that India remains committed to a unified and prosperous Nepal.

Hailing the success of the three major elections held last year, Modi observed that India-Nepal ties are above inter-governmental relations. “I, the Indian government and the Indian people heartily felicitate the Nepali people for the progress made under the federal democratic set-up,” he remarked.

“We have evaluated the partnership between Nepal and India. Some of the projects have seen progress. We have agreed to review comprehensively the trade and transit treaty,” said Modi, adding that the two countries would cooperate in areas of security and defence.

The two prime ministers jointly laid the foundation stone for the much-awaited 900-megawatt Arun III hydropower project using remote technology. The Investment Board Nepal on Thursday issued the licence to the SJVN Arun III Power Development Company to generate power from the project located in eastern Nepal. Modi received the guard of honour at the Nepal Army Pavilion, complete with a 21-canon salute. Oli joined him as he inspected the parade.

Earlier Modi had met with Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali at Hotel Hyatt. The Indian PM paid a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari at Sheetal Niwas on Friday evening. He also called on Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun.

Published: 12-05-2018 07:05

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