New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba undertook a wide-ranging discussion during the latter’s India visit, including a brief deliberation on the border dispute between the two countries, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla informed in a press briefing on Saturday.
“There was a general understanding that both sides needed to address this in a responsible manner through discussion and dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly relations and politicisation of such issues need to be avoided,” Shringla said.
Shringla was addressing a briefing on the three-day visit of the Nepal Prime Minister to India that began on Friday.
Saying that the security-related issues such as the border dispute were discussed briefly, Shringla said, “essentially there was a sense that it (the boundary issue) should be addressed through discussion and dialogue.”
Further elaborating on the boundary question, the Foreign Secretary said, “Between any two countries there are a number of issues that are always outstanding… I think what is important between two close and friendly neighbours is that you have the ability to sit down and discuss and sort out these issues in a manner that is satisfactory to both sides.”
“We have sorted land and maritime boundary issues with Bangladesh. Similarly, there is a mechanism to resolve this. We have no doubt we will find a way to sort out these issues,” the Foreign Secretary added.
Tensions between New Delhi and Kathmandu arose last year after the issuance of the revised political map by Nepal as India had included the tri-junction in its map issued in November 2019.
Diplomatic ties between the nations worsened after the inauguration of a road linking Kailash Mansarovar via Lipulekh on May 8, 2020, after which Nepal handed over a diplomatic note to India objecting to the move.
New Delhi had called Nepal’s move a “unilateral act” and cautioned Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
Foreign Secretary Shringla also elaborated on the other aspects of the discussion between the countries, as well as the significance of the ongoing visit.
“He arrived yesterday, this is his first bilateral visit abroad since he assumed the office of PM in July last year. This is PM Deuba’s landmark 5th visit to India in his capacity as PM. He had visited India in each of his previous terms with his last such visit taking place in August 2017,” Shringla said.
“Our relations with Nepal occupy a very special place in our Neighbourhood First policy… It is a unique relationship, characterised by open borders, people-to-people of kinship and culture which have very few parallels in the world,” he added.
On the cooperation between the two countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shringla informed that the Nepal PM thanked India for the support extended during the pandemic.
“PM Deuba thanked India for standing by Nepal during the COVID pandemic and supporting the country with the supply of essential vaccines, liquid medical oxygen, medicines and equipment… He also appreciated efforts to keep the bilateral ties and supply chains running unhindered during the hype of the pandemic,” Foreign Secretary informed.
The visit of PM Deuba led to several positive outcomes in the bilateral cooperation between the two countries including cooperation in the power sector, the Launch of the RuPay card in Nepal, technical cooperation in railways including the launch of the first cross-border passenger train service between India’s Jayanagar and Nepal’s Kurtha, and Nepal joining the International Solar Alliance, Foreign Secretary informed.
Yesterday, Nepal Prime Minister met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla in the national capital.
Earlier, he met Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) President JP Nadda at the party headquarters in a courtesy meeting.
The last Head of State/Head of Government-level visit from Nepal was in May 2019, when then PM K P Oli visited India for the swearing-in ceremony of PM Narendra Modi and the Union Council of Ministers. Before that PM Modi had visited Nepal in August 2018 for the 4th BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu, which was preceded by a State Visit to Nepal in May 2018.
PM Modi had extended a congratulatory message to Sher Bahadur Deuba soon after he won the Vote of Confidence in Nepal’s Parliament. This was followed by a congratulatory telephonic conversation on 19 July 2021. The most recent meeting between PM Modi and Sher Bahadur Deuba took place on November 2, 2021, on the sidelines of COP 26 in Glasgow.
Sher Bahadur Deuba is a veteran politician of the Nepali Congress with a political career spanning over seven decades. This is Deuba’s fifth tenure as PM. His first term was from September 1995 to March 1997.
He has visited India several times, both when in and out of power. This will be his fifth visit to India as PM, with the last visit being in August 2018. The previous three visits took place in 2004, 2002 and 1996.