Updated: August 15, 2020 5:55:42 pm
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli Friday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day. This was their first telephonic conversation since the deterioration of ties over the Kalapani boundary dispute.
In the 11-minute conversation with PM Modi, Oli greeted the people of India and the government on the occasion of 74th Independence Day and conveyed congratulations for India’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
“The leaders expressed mutual solidarity in the context of the efforts being made to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in both countries. Prime Minister offered India’s continued support to Nepal in this regard,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
Recalling the civilizational and cultural links that India and Nepal share, PM Modi thanked his Nepal counterpart for his telephone call.
Earlier in the day, Oli also took to Twitter to wish Modi on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence day.
Congratulations and greetings to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji, the Government and people of India on the happy occasion of the 74th Independence Day. Best wishes for more progress and prosperity of the people of India.
For the first time since the Kalapani dispute, India and Nepal will hold talks on August 17 under their “oversight mechanism” for reviewing all bilateral economic and developmental projects in the Himalayan nation. India is building roads in the Terai region, helping Nepal in its post-earthquake reconstruction work, building railway lines, a police training academy, a polytechnic college, an oil pipeline and border check posts. The government has allocated Rs 800 crore in this year’s budget for projects in Nepal.
The meeting — of the joint oversight mechanism to review projects established in 2016, and which last met in July 2019 — assumes significance since Indian and Nepalese officials have not met to discuss the Kalapani border dispute due to the pandemic.
The boundary dispute between India and Nepal came to the fore last November when India published its new map following the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories and the end of its special status under Article 370.
Kathmandu had proposed talks to discuss the boundary issue. It was tentatively scheduled for March, but had to be put off due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
India’s inauguration this May of a new road from Dharchula to Lipulekh on the Mansarovar Yatra route angered the KP Sharma 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) which India maintains is its territory. A Constitution amendment Bill was then passed by Nepal’s parliament to legitimize the alteration or addition of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura to the country’s new map.
The passage of the Bill and the new map led to the breakdown of communication between the two countries.
The August 17 meeting will take place in Kathmandu where Nepal’s Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi will lead a team of officials while the Indian side will be led by Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra. The meeting is likely to take place via videoconference in view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
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