Nepal PM Deuba seeks mechanism to resolve boundary issue

Nepal PM Deuba seeks mechanism to resolve boundary issue

In his media statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the discussion on ensuring that the open borders between India and Nepal are not misused by undesirable elements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba (Photo: Twitter) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba (Photo: Twitter)

India and Nepal on Saturday unveiled a cross-border passenger train service and several other developmental initiatives to further broad-base ties even as Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba urged his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to establish a mechanism to resolve the contentious boundary issue.

After their wide-ranging talks, Modi and Deuba virtually inaugurated the 35 km railway network from Bihar's Jaynagar to Kurtha in Nepal, launched a 90 km power transmission line and rolled out India's RuPay payment card in Nepal.

Signalling a major reset of ties that came under severe strain after the boundary row escalated in 2020, the two sides also released a vision document for deepening cooperation in the power sector and inked four pacts providing for cooperation in areas of energy and railways.

Also Read: India's RuPay payment card launched in Nepal

Deuba arrived in New Delhi on Friday in his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming prime minister for the fifth time in July 2021.

In his media statement, Modi referred to the discussion on ensuring that the open borders between India and Nepal are not misused by undesirable elements.

"We discussed that the open borders between India and Nepal are not misused by undesirable elements. We emphasised on deepening of cooperation between our defence and security authorities. I am confident that our talks today will be able to attain the objective of achieving the ambitious targets of the India-Nepal ties," he said.

In his comments to the media in presence of Modi, Deuba said the boundary issue was discussed in the talks between the two sides and he urged the Indian prime minister to resolve it through the establishment of a bilateral mechanism.

Hours later at a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there was a general understanding that the issue needed to be addressed in a responsible manner through dialogue and its "politicisation" should be avoided.

"The issue was briefly discussed. 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 needs to be avoided," Shringla said.

Also Read: PM Modi, Nepalese PM Deuba flag off India-Nepal rail link

Shringla's comments on the need for avoiding politicisation of the boundary row assume significance as then Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli in 2020 attempted to use the issue to fend off increasing domestic pressure and challenge to his leadership.

Ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Kathmandu published a new political map in 2020 that showed the three Indian territories - Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh - as part of Nepal.

In his remarks, Modi said India has been a firm partner in the journey of peace, progress and development of Nepal and will always remain so.

"The friendship of India and Nepal, the relationships of our people, such an example is not seen anywhere else in the world. Our civilization, our culture, the threads of our exchanges; are connected since ancient times," Modi said.

The pacts signed included one on renewal of supply of petroleum products to Nepal Oil Corporation Ltd (NOC) by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) for a period of five years as the earlier MoU on it expired on March 31.

Another agreement was signed for sharing of technical expertise by IOCL and NOC in areas of petroleum products as well as on operation and maintenance of facilities required for the purpose.

The two sides also signed an agreement on enhancing technical cooperation in the railway sector.

A separate document was signed on Nepal joining the India-backed International Solar Alliance.

The prime minister said he and Deuba also agreed to give priority to the initiatives on trade and cross border connectivity in all respects and that the joint vision statement on power corporation will prove to be a blueprint for future collaboration.

"We also agreed on the subject of more participation by Indian companies in Nepal's hydropower development plans. It is a matter of happiness that Nepal is exporting its surplus power to India," Modi said.

He said the introduction of the Rupay Card in Nepal will add a new chapter to the bilateral financial connectivity, adding other projects like Nepal Police Academy, integrated check post at Nepalganj and Ramayana Circuit will also bring the two countries closer.

"We emphasized the importance of progressing at a fast pace in the Pancheshwar Project. This project will prove to be a game-changer for the development of the region," Modi said.

The Jayanagar-Kurtha section, the first such broad-gauge passenger railway service between the two countries, was flagged off by the two prime ministers.

The railway link has been built with grant assistance from India.

On Twitter, Modi described the talks as "fruitful" and said that one of the key emerging pillars of India-Nepal cooperation is energy.

The prime minister said Deuba has always played a key role in boosting the India-Nepal friendship.

Separately, the Ministry of External Affairs said Modi and Deuba reviewed the full spectrum of the bilateral agenda covering political, economic, trade, energy, security and developmental issues.

It said India's relationship with Nepal is one of the main pillars of its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.

"The visit of the prime minister of Nepal to India will contribute in further cementing the traditional and age-old ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries," it said in a statement.

"The expansive and productive talks between the two Prime Ministers provided high-level direction and gave shape to a robust agenda for bilateral cooperation in multiple sectors, particularly those related to energy and connectivity," it added.

The MEA said both sides agreed to expedite progress in the implementation of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, beginning with the early finalisation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR).

"They reviewed the progress in implementation of Indian projects in Nepal, including the cross-border rail-link projects connecting (a) Jayanagar-Kurtha-Bijalpur-Bardibas (b) Jogbani-Biratnagar (c) Raxaul-Kathmandu," it said.

The MEA said Modi welcomed Nepal's decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Published on: Apr 03, 2022, 8:54 AM IST
Posted by: Manali, Apr 03, 2022, 8:40 AM IST