Problems between Nepal, India would be resolved through dialogue: PM Oli to Indian Army chief

Shirish B Pradhan
·4-min read

Kathmandu, Nov 6 (PTI) Problems between Nepal and India would be resolved through dialogue, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said on Friday during a meeting here with Indian Army chief Gen. M M Naravane who paid a courtesy call on him.

Gen Naravane's three-day visit to Nepal was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following a bitter border row between the two countries.

The meeting between Gen Naravane and Oli, who is also the Defence Minister of Nepal, took place at his official residence in Baluwatar, Nepal Army sources said.

Prime Minister Oli said that “there has been good friendship between Nepal and India,” according to his foreign affairs advisor Rajan Bhattarai.

Oli expressed hope that the “problems between the two countries would be resolved through dialogue,” Bhattarai said in a tweet after the meeting.

The Nepal Prime Minister mentioned the centuries-old special relations existing between Nepal and India, and the tradition of conferring Honorary General of Army on each other’s Army chiefs, Bhattarai said.

The Indian Embassy said that “during the meeting, both sides also exchanged views on the extensive bilateral partnership between India and Nepal. Gen Naravane reaffirmed that he would work to further strengthen the defence cooperation between the two countries”.

Gen Naravane conveyed the best wishes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Oli and the people of Nepal, it said in a statement.

The Indian Army chief also expressed his personal gratitude for the warm hospitality extended by the Government of Nepal.

As the last stop of his visit, Gen Naravane visited the Indian Embassy where he was briefed about the welfare activities being carried out for around 230,000 Indian Army veterans and their families in Nepal.

During the visit, he also presented a welfare grant to Lance Havildar (retired) Dil Bahadur Chhettri, a winner of Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award of India.

Gen Naravane's engagements in Nepal included a visit to the headquarters of the Nepalese Army and attending a banquet hosted in his honour by chief of Nepalese Army Gen Purna Chandra Thapa. On Thursday, the two Army chiefs held talks and discussed ways to boost bilateral military cooperation.

According to the Nepal Army sources, they discussed issues pertaining to mutual security concerns.

“During the meeting, they also discussed matters relating to enhancing and expanding areas of cooperation between the two armies including exchange of high-level visits and training, within the existing framework of Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group’s Meeting on Security Issues.

“Nepal Army firmly believes that such high level of visits will help to further cement the friendship between two Armies and the two countries,” the Nepal Army said in a statement on the conclusion of Gen Naravane’s visit.

He left for Delhi on Friday afternoon after concluding a successful three-day official visit to Nepal. Chief of Gen. Staff Lt. Gen. Prabhuram Sharma bade farewell to the Indian Army chief at Tribhuvan International Airport, the statement added.

The Chief of Army Staff, who arrived here on Wednesday, earlier in the day enjoyed a mountain flight during which he had a brief stopover at Syangboche airport, the gateway to the world's highest peak Mount Everest, they said.

Gen Naravane also addressed the middle-level student officers at the Army Command and Staff College at Shivapuri on the outskirts of Kathmandu. During the interaction, he shared his experience with the student officers, they said.

On Thursday, Gen Naravane was conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at a special ceremony, a decades old tradition that reflects the strong ties between the two militaries.

The Army chief's visit is the first high-level trip from India to Kathmandu since ties between the two neighbours came under strain after the Himalayan nation came up with a new political map in May claiming several areas in Uttarakhand to be part of its territory.

Nepal had protested after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal claimed that the road passed through its territory. Days later, it came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories. India too had published a new map in November 2019 showing the areas as its territories.

After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a 'unilateral act' and cautioning Kathmandu that such 'artificial enlargement' of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

India said Nepal's action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.

India's decision to send the Army chief to Nepal to reset the ties is seen as part of a larger exercise by New Delhi to rejuvenate relations with Myanmar, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan in the wake of greater efforts by China to expand its influence in the region.

Last month, Gen Naravane travelled to Myanmar along with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on an important visit during which India decided to supply an attack submarine to the Myanmarese Navy besides agreeing to further deepen military and defence ties. PTI SBP CPS AKJ CPS