Even as anti-India protests continued in Nepal’s capital and other parts of the country over construction of a link road to Mansarovar, its foreign minister handed over a ‘diplomatic note’ to the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu in this regard.
A tweet by Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali conveyed Government of Nepal’s position on boundary issues to Ambassador of India to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra at a meeting held at MoFA today and handed over a diplomatic note in this regard.”
Indian ambassador Kwatra, who has been mostly inside the embassy premises as the country is under lockdown for the last six weeks, arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a call, in the wake of India inaugurating a link road from Pithoragarh to Lipulekh through areas that Nepal claims is part of it.
Minister Gyawali is believed to have asked for an early meeting between the two sides to settle the border dispute through the bilateral mechanism as agreed previously at the Prime Ministers’ level.
The Indian embassy in Kathmandu said that Kwatra explained India’s position on the boundary issue and handed over a statement issued by MEA to Gyawali, asserting that the road passed entirely through Indian territory.
Sources in New Delhi told The Indian Express that the road construction was not “new”, and had been going on since 2008. The sources pointed to the MEA spokesperson’s statement on Saturday that “the recently inaugurated road section in Pithoragarh district in the State of Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra…”
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said that India and Nepal have an established mechanism to deal with all boundary matters. “The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing. India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue and in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal,” Srivastava had said.
Meanwhile, protests were held by various groups — including retired civil servants and army officers — in Kathmandu for the third day in a row. They demanded that India vacate the Nepali territory — Limpiadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani — along the tri-junction of Nepal, India and Tibet.
The Indian ambassador’s meeting with the Nepal’s foreign minister came two days after a diplomatic face-off between India and Nepal over the link road. The Nepal government on Sunday said it believed that bilateral talks were the most preferred option to sort out what it called encroachment of 400 sq km area east of Kali river in the tri-junction of Nepal, Tibet and India.
Sources in New Delhi have said that both sides are in the process of “scheduling foreign secretary-level talks”.
On Saturday, Nepal expressed “regret” over the construction and inauguration of the road by India connecting through the territory that Nepal claims belong to it, to which New Delhi said that the road in Uttarakhand lies “completely within the territory of India”
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