File photo of PM Modi and Nepalese PM KP Sharma Oli
NEW DELHI: Ahead of the foreign minister-level Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) on Friday, India ruled out any substantive dialogue with Nepal on the Kalapani border dispute saying there was a separate mechanism to address the issue.
Nepal's foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali landed here Thursday for the 6th JCM meeting which will be hosted by his counterpart S Jaishankar. The meeting will take place in the middle of the current political instability in Kathmandu that has seen Parliament's lower house dissolved by PM K P Oli and the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) effectively split into 2 despite China's best efforts to keep the warring Communist leaders together.
"Our position on the boundary issue is well known. Let me say that the JCM and boundary talks are separate mechanisms," said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, responding to a query on whether the border issue would be discussed in the meeting. While India has shared its perspective on the border issue with Nepal, it wants discussions to be carried forward only under appropriate bilateral mechanisms.
Gyawali though is still expected to raise the border issue and call for efforts to resolve the dispute. Oli had said last week in National Assembly that discussions during Gyawali's visit to India will be centred on the issue of Nepal's new political map that his government published showing Uttarakhand's Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh in Nepal.
Oli, considered pro-China not long back, has sought to rebuild ties with India though in the past few months. India has responded too with a series of high-level meetings including a visit to Kathmandu by army chief M M Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla. Significantly, India also agreed to host Gyawali even while working hard to ensure that it isn't seen, unlike China, as a factor in what it has described as Nepal's internal affairs.
However, this didn't stop Oli's rival P K Dahal Prachanda from alleging, in another dramatic development on Wednesday, that the Nepal PM had acted at the behest of India in dissolving Parliament and also in seeking to split the party.
"Oli met Samanta Goel, the chief of RAW, the intelligence wing of India, for three hours at his official residence at Baluwatar, without the presence of any second person, which clearly shows Oli's motive," Dahal was quoted as saying. He also accused Oli of taking wrong advice from external forces. Interestingly, Oli had himself accused his party leaders last year of acting on India's advice by seeking his resignation.
India though has stayed away from the recent political developments in Nepal, keen as it is to not appear as taking sides. The MEA said Thursday that the JCM was an important mechanism that provided the opportunity of reviewing at a high level the entire gamut of the bilateral partnership and providing political guidance to further enhance the "special and unique ties".
"We look forward to constructive discussions on the numerous sectors that encompass our bilateral agenda," said Srivastava.