Nepal, India agree to resume engagement

Nepal, India agree to resume engagement

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa and his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today held talks in New Delhi, signaling resumption of bilateral engagement between the two countries.

The two foreign ministers are also learnt to have agreed to activate all bilateral mechanisms, including the Foreign Ministerial Level Joint Commission, while keeping differences aside.

The joint commission meeting was last held in July 2014 in Kathmandu.

“The meeting focused on resuming bilateral engagement in all fronts, including political, diplomatic, security and trade and investment sectors,” a foreign ministry source privy to the talks told The Himalayan Times.

“Meeting with EAM of India Sushma Swaraj today in Delhi has been very useful and constructive,” Thapa tweeted right after the meeting. Whereas, Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, India, dubbed the meeting a “continuing engagement with Nepal.”

Domestic political situation of Nepal, including talks with the agitating Federal Alliance, also figured during the meeting. But it is understood that the Indian side wants the issue to be resolved through dialogue before long.

In response, the Nepali side stated that the government was making adequate efforts to bring the protesting parties to the talks table.

Relations between the two neighbours had soured after Nepal promulgated a new constitution in October and subsequent border blockade for up to five months, which created a humanitarian crisis in Nepal.

This is Thapa’s fifth visit to India since the formation of the CPN-UML led government in October.

But, it was the first top political meeting between the two neighbours after Nepal abruptly recalled ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay from New Delhi and cancelled President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s scheduled visit in early May.

Bilateral meeting on water resources was held in New Delhi last week, while a meeting on security issues concluded in the Indian capital on Thursday.

The two sides have also agreed to start the meeting of newly set up Eminent Person’s Group on reviewing bilateral treaties early next month and hold a joint military exercise in October and November in Nepal.

Before his meeting with Swaraj, Thapa spoke at Press Club of India and addressed a talks programme at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, and said Nepal and India resolved their misunderstandings and bilateral ties was back on track.

Asked about accusations that India attempted to topple Prime Minister KP Oli’s government in Nepal, Thapa said facts were misrepresented. He, however, claimed that ambassador Upadhyay’s recall was meant to build “better ties with India”.

Thapa will attend the maiden convocation ceremony of South Asian University in New Delhi tomorrow.

As the incumbent chair of SAARC Council of Ministers, DPM Thapa will preside over the convocation ceremony and give away degrees to approximately 450 students from across the South Asia region.

Source: THT