Amid the border stand-off at Doklam between Indian and Chinese troops, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Thursday assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his country would not allow any activity against its “friendly neighbour”. However, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the two leaders have not discussed “Doklam” and the current tension between India and China during the visit.
After talks with Deuba, Modi stressed on closer cooperation between the security and defence forces of the two countries in order to avoid misuse of the open border between India and Nepal. “Defence ties and assistance in security is an important aspect of our partnership. Our defence interests are also dependent and connected to each other,” Modi said, while delivering a joint press statement after the talks.
Deuba gave an assurance of “every support, every help and cooperation”. “As you (Modi) mentioned that Nepal has an open border… I would like to assure you that Nepal will never allow any activity against friendly neighbour India and there will be every support, every help and cooperation from our side,” the visiting Prime Minister said.
Jaishankar emphasised on the “defence and security” aspect, and said that since there is a “porous and open border”, both sides felt the need to be “vigilant” and “careful”. Acknowledging that there were “issues” in the implementation of the Constitution, Deuba expressed confidence that a Constitution “encompassing” the views of the people from all sections and ethnicities would be a reality.
Modi, too, expressed confidence that Nepal would take into consideration aspirations of all its citizens in the implementation of the Constitution. On August 21, the Nepalese parliament failed to endorse the much-awaited Constitution amendment bill to address the issues of Madhesis as the ruling coalition could not garner two-thirds majority required for its passage.
The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Kataiya- Kusaha and Raxaul-Parwanipur cross border power transmission lines. Modi said this would give an additional 100 MW of power to Nepal, apart from the current 350 MW.
The two sides, he added, had also agreed on development of the Ramayana and Buddhist tourism circuits through better connectivity.
Flood management and irrigation projects was a focal point in the talks between the two countries. India had announced Rs 25 crore of immediate relief assistance, and the first lot has reached Biratnagar Thursday, Jaishankar said.
Modi stressed on greater coordination between the agencies of India and Nepal on flood management and said the two sides must work towards a long-term solution, taking into consideration each other’s interests. While he expressed the hope that the Detailed Project Report for the Pancheshwar project on the Uttarakhand border of the Indian side would be finalised soon, Deuba stressed that it would help in flood control and crop irrigation. Modi said Deuba had informed him that the land acquisition issues for Arun III irrigation project had been addressed and the Nepalese Prime Minister had invited him for the ground-breaking ceremony.
The two sides signed eight pacts, including on cooperation in countering drug trafficking and post-earthquake reconstruction in the Himalayan nation.