Ahead of his three-day visit to Nepal starting Wednesday, Indian Army chief General M M Naravane said it will go a long way in strengthening a relationship that both armies cherish.
He will be meeting Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, and will also call on President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
“I am delighted to be visiting Nepal on their kind invitation, and to meet my counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Army Staff of the Nepali Army,” General Naravane said in a statement Tuesday.
“I am sure this visit will go a long way in strengthening the bonds of friendship that the two armies cherish.”
He will be conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army.
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He said he is grateful for the opportunity to meet Nepal’s Prime Minister and was “looking forward eagerly to this visit”.
In Nepal, the Indian Army chief’s visit, though being called routine in official circles, signals the continuation of a tradition and custom that the two sides have maintained for over seven decades.
Nepal Army chief General Thapa had received the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army last year, a reciprocal arrangement between the two countries.
General Naravane’s visit to Kathmandu is also significant since it comes after months of tension between the two countries following protests in Nepal over the boundary dispute. His comment this summer that Nepal was acting at the “behest of someone else” — an oblique reference to China — also complicated relations.
On May 15, General Naravane suggested that Nepal might be raising the issue of Indian road construction via Lipulekh to Mansarovar at the “behest of someone else”. Nepal reacted furiously, and ties were severely strained. Of late, the two countries have been trying to repair ties, and General Naravane’s visit will be closely followed.
Naveen Kumar, spokesperson for the Indian Embassy in Nepal, said General Naravane’s visit would deepen the “long standing and customary bonds of friendship between the two armies” and “will provide an opportunity for both sides to discuss the bilateral defence partnership and explore avenues to further strengthen it for mutual benefit”.
Nepal Army sources said the visit will enhance ties between the two sides. Military relations, the sources said, have remained smooth even during times of strain.
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