In what is being seen as a reciprocal gesture to Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s August 15 phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is headed to Kathmandu for the first high-level diplomatic visit since the map row erupted in May this year.
While New Delhi is not changing its stance on the boundary issue, the visit is aimed at bringing the relationship back on track.
Shringla will be on an official visit to Nepal on November 26-27, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement Monday. This will be the first visit of the Foreign Secretary to Nepal since he assumed charge.
The statement said the visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal. The Foreign Secretary will meet his counterpart and other dignitaries in Nepal to discuss cooperation between the countries, it said.
Sources, however, pointed out that Shringla’s visit is not to be conflated with the Foreign Secretary-level talks on the boundary issue. New Delhi, sources said, has already made its position clear.
The two sides, sources said, are going to focus on connectivity and infrastructure.
The border dispute between India and Nepal came to the fore in November last year, when India published the map after Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories and its special status under Article 370 was revoked. In April, India’s inauguration of a road from Dharchula to Lipulekh as part of the Mansarovar Yatra route angered the Oli government which came out with a new map of Nepal, adding to it an area of 370 sq km at the tri-junction of Nepal, India and China (Tibet) that India claims as its territory.
A constitution amendment Bill was passed by Nepal’s parliament to legitimise the addition of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura to the new map.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had then said “this artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable.”
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