As Nepal's parliament votes on a new map of the country that strained its ties with India, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane on Saturday said the relationship between the two countries has always been strong and will remain so in the future.
Nepal's parliament is expected to vote soon on the map featuring new areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along its border with India, notwithstanding a strong protest by New Delhi. India has been maintaining that these three areas belong to it.
"We have a very strong relationship with Nepal. We have geographical, cultural, historical, religious linkages. We have very strong people-to-people connect. Our relation with them has always been strong and will remain strong in the future," Gen Naravane said.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory.
In the midst of the row, Gen Naravane had said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to the road at the behest of "someone else", in an apparent reference to a possible role by China in the matter. The comments triggered an angry reaction from Nepal.
Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply and cautioned the country that such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory - India as part of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.
Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been asserting that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to "reclaim" them from India.
Copyright©2021 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today