Describing the acrimony between India and Nepal in the last five months as “misunderstandings”, visiting Prime Minister of Nepal K P Sharma Oli on Saturday said his main mission behind the bilateral visit to India was to “clear the misunderstanding” and take ties between the two countries to the same level as in 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Nepal.
After the bilateral talks with Modi, Oli said, “The misunderstanding that persisted in the last few months is no longer there. I believe our relationship will greatly benefit from our discussions. It is high time to look at India-Nepal relations with a forward-looking approach in the interest of the two countries and their people.”
While Oli described Nepal’s constitution as “historic”, Modi called it a “major achievement”, and stressed that its success depends on “consensus and dialogue”. With Nepal PM listening, he said, “The announcement of the new constitution in Nepal came after decades of struggle there… I appreciate the contribution of the political leadership and people of Nepal for it… But its success depends on consensus and dialogue. I am confident on the basis of these principles and through political dialogue and by taking all sections together, you (Oli) will be able to resolve all issues relating to the constitution satisfactorily and take Nepal forward towards the path of development and stability.”
While the two leaders described the document differently — showing the distance in the understanding of issues — Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the Nepalese PM has given assurances on issues pertaining to constituency delimitation and citizenship, and that India was confident these would be followed through. Oli is learnt to have assured that the pending issues would be addressed in a time-bound manner.
Modi told Oli that India has always wanted peace, stability and prosperity of Nepal and that it would extend all possible help to ensure its all-round development. The conversation took place weeks after Nepal’s parliament passed two constitutional amendments which are expected to address the grievances of the Madhesis and other minorities.
The long acrimony between India and Nepal over the newly promulgated constitution had led to massive disruption of essential supplies to the Himalayan nation, Jaishankar said that Oli’s visit was not a “recriminatory” one, but “forward-looking”.
On combating terrorism, Modi said that it was clear that “Nepal’s stability is linked to India’s security” and the two sides agreed to fight growing extremism and terrorism.
“We will not allow terrorists and criminals to use our open border. In this regard, the security agencies of the two countries will intensify cooperation.”
Before the talks between the PMs, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Oli. The Nepalese PM told her that his country is and will remain a “reliable” friend of India, and that he wanted to “move forward in the relationship, which is not man-made but entirely natural and civilisational”.
The two sides signed nine agreements, ranging from infrastructure to rail and road transit.
Oli also thanked Modi and people of India for “spontaneous support” in the aftermath of the earthquake.