File photo of General MM Naravane.
NEW DELHI: Army chief General M M Naravane will be visiting
in the first week of November, in the first such high-level visit since Kathmandu issued a new political map that claimed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand as part of its territory.
Gen Naravane is slated to meet the top political and military leadership of Nepal to discuss bilateral ties during the visit. As per a long-standing reciprocal tradition, Gen Naravane will also be conferred the honorary rank of “General of the Nepalese Army” by President Vidya Devi Bhandari at a special investiture ceremony, said officials.
The visit will be an opportunity to reaffirm the close and long-standing military ties with the landlocked Himalayan country, where China has made several strategic inroads in recent years.
A distinct politico-diplomatic chill has crept into the bilateral ties after Nepal strongly protested against India’s inauguration of a new 80-km link road from Dharchula till the high-altitude
, which lies near the India-Nepal-China tri-junction, in May. India, in turn, rejected Nepal’s new official map issued by the K P Sharma Oli-led government as “artificial and unacceptable”.
But strong links continue between the two armies, with regular exchanges, combat exercises and training programmes. The 14thedition of the joint “Surya Kiran”exercise, for instance, was held at the Nepal Army Battle School at Salijhandi in Rupendehi district of Nepal in December last year.
There are also over 28,000 Nepalese citizens currently serving in the seven Gorkha Rifles (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th) of the Indian Army, which also include Indian-domiciled Gorkhas from Darjeeling,
and Dharamshala. Nepal also has over 1.25 lakh
veterans, who draw their pensions from across the border.