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Delhi reaches out to Kathmandu: Pause map process, come to table

Sources said feelers have been sent to the Oli government to pause the process of getting parliamentary sanction for the country’s new map and come to the table for talks.

Written by Shubhajit Roy , Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: June 16, 2020 7:48:05 am
india nepal talks, nepal map bill, nepal new map, india nepal relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli. (AP Photo/File)

Moving to check the slide in ties with Nepal, government sources indicated Monday that New Delhi is willing to hold talks with Kathmandu on the boundary dispute if the KP Sharma Oli government there creates a “conducive atmosphere” and “positive situation”.

Sources said feelers have been sent to the Oli government to pause the process of getting parliamentary sanction for the country’s new map and come to the table for talks.

On Monday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too reached out to Nepal, saying the relationship between the two countries is not an ordinary one, but one that is bound by “roti aur beti” (livelihood and marriage) and can never be severed.

Nepal has fast-tracked the passage of a constitution amendment Bill to approve its new map that includes Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. These are areas in Uttarakhand but Nepal claims ownership.

Explained | The new Indian road to Lipu Lekh, Nepal’s protests, and the area’s strategic importance

The Bill, which has been passed by the Nepal House of Representatives, is now in the Rastriya Sabha, the Upper House. Members are calling for early dialogue with India.

On June 13, the Ministry of External Affairs, reacting to the passage of the Bill in the House of Representatives, dismissed “this artificial enlargement of claims” as “not based on historical fact or evidence” and “violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues”.

The government’s willingness now to talk to Kathmandu is, however, incumbent on the Oli government’s response to the Indian offer.

If the Oli government, sources said, does not follow through with the passage of the Bill in the Upper House, it would be seen as “creating a conducive and positive atmosphere”.

Editorial | Nepal’s Oli government is displaying brinkmanship, But Delhi must take larger view

Even if the Bill is passed, official procedures include its signing by the President and notification of the amendment. If these processes are not followed through and is not given logical conclusion, then it could also be seen as contributing to an atmosphere where bilateral talks can take place, sources said.

Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh told a Jan Samvad virtual rally of BJP workers in Uttarakhand that “if there is any misunderstanding among Nepal’s people because of the road built from Dharchula to Lipulekh, I think we can find a resolution to that by sitting together”.

Read | ‘Not tenable’: India on Nepal Parliament clearing bill to redraw political map

“No matter how many wires are put ahead of Dharchula, these ties cannot be severed. The relationship between India and Nepal is not an ordinary relationship. It is a relationship of roti aur beti,” he said.

It was Singh’s inauguration of an 80-km road from Dharchula to Lipulekh on the Mansarovar Yatra trail on May 8 that led to protests across Nepal.

“We will find a resolution through talks. I can say with full confidence that people of India can never have any bitterness towards Nepal. Our relationship is so deep. We will find answers to all the problems by sitting together,” he said.

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