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Sunday, March 07, 2021

India, Nepal commit to early completion of boundary works

Visiting Nepal Foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said the two sides are mindful that they should not let any outstanding issue “become irritant in an otherwise friendly relationship”.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: January 16, 2021 4:27:17 am
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Nepal counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Friday. (Source: Twitter @S Jaishankar)

Eight months after the boundary row erupted between India and Nepal, foreign ministers of the two countries discussed the issue and expressed the commitment to early completion of the boundary works in the disputed areas.

Visiting Nepal Foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali also said the two sides are mindful that they should not let any outstanding issue “be there forever and become irritant in an otherwise friendly relationship”.

Asked about China’s influence, he said Nepal has always ensured their soil is not misused against any of its neighbours.

After the bilateral meeting with External Affairs minister S Jaishankar, Gyawali said, “Yes, we discussed the boundary matters. We both are committed to finalise it at the earliest.” He was responding to a question at an interaction organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs.

“Needless to say that the relationship between neighbours has its own characters. Mutual trust, understanding and respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns contribute to strengthen the foundation of such relationships,” Gyawali said.

“In this spirit, we desire to start the conversation with a view to resolving the question of boundary alignment in the remaining segments. Many of you may be aware that Nepal and India share over 1,800 km long international boundary most of which is jointly mapped. Only in the stretches of some kilometers, the work remains to be completed,” he said.

“Finding an agreeable boundary alignment in these segments may not only take us to the stage of a fully settled international boundary but may also help generate a positive vibe in public sentiment as well as help instill greater degree of trust and confidence in bilateral relations. I believe that we can work out and reach that stage,” he said.

“While both sides have agreed to resolve the boundary question through talks, we have also shown wisdom that despite the difference in one area, the momentum of our overall engagements is continued. We are also mindful that we should not let any outstanding issue between us be there forever and become irritant in an otherwise friendly relationship,” he said.

A statement by Nepal’s Foreign ministry said the ministers “discussed the boundary matter and expressed the commitment to early completion of the boundary works in the remaining segments”.

The Indian government’s statement, however, did not mention the discussion over the boundary dispute. It mentioned “border management” as one of the areas, apart from political and security issues and other areas as areas of discussion.

Jaishankar tweeted, “Co-chaired the 6th India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting with FM @PradeepgyawaliK. Detailed review of our broad ongoing cooperation. Confident that our multifaceted partnership will continue to strengthen.”

Gywali, in his speech, said Nepal was among the few countries that remained independent throughout its history, and therefore, holds dearer than anything else the principles of “sovereign equality, mutual respect and non-interference”.

“We pursue an independent foreign policy and our conduct of external relations is based on a balanced outlook. We do not harbour ill-will against anyone. Amity with all and enmity with none is our motto. Guided by the same principles, we seek to foster relations with neighbours and all friendly countries around the world,” he said, in a thinly-veiled reference to the battle for influence between India and China.

Besides the border issue, the two sides discussed the cooperation in combating the pandemic. Nepal congratulated India on the success in production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and requested for early provision of vaccines.

The two sides also discussed the progress in increasing cross-border infrastructure and connectivity.

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