Meeting with Nepal to review projects but no border talks

3 months ago 26
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NEW DELHI: While India is yet to agree to


's repeated calls for a dialogue on the boundary issue, the recent strife over Nepal's new political map is unlikely to come in the way of cooperation between the 2 countries.
After it supplies Covid-19 related medical aid to


, including 10 ventilators this week, India has now agreed to have a meeting on August 17 of the oversight mechanism meant to review progress in development and economic projects.
Official sources clarified though that the upcoming meeting between the Indian ambassador, V M Kwatra, and Nepal's foreign secretary S D Bairagi in Kathmandu was part of a "regular interaction" between India and Nepal and was held on a periodic basis.
The mechanism, comprising senior officials from the Indian embassy in Kathmandu and the Nepal government, was set up in 2016 during a visit by then Nepal PM P K Dahal Prachanda to review ongoing bilateral economic and development projects, and to take necessary steps to expedite their implementation.
The meeting will still be the first senior-level engagement between the 2 countries since the Covid-19 outbreak and the recent border tensions. Official sources also said though that there never was a breakdown in communication between India and Nepal and that even the Nepal ambassador here, Nilambar Acharya, regularly had meetings with MEA officials.
Nepal though wants dialogue between the foreign secretaries on the boundary issue and has, since November last year, issued 4 notes verbale to India seeking the same. Diplomatic sources said that Nepal is ready to welcome an Indian delegation for border talks on any day of India's choosing.
India has been providing Covid-19 related assistance to not just Nepal government but also the army as per requests received from the Nepal army by leadership in its interaction with the Indian counterparts.
In addition to 10 ventilators provided on Sunday, India had earlier also provided medicines to the Nepal army. The supplies were provided through Ministry of Defence (MoD) and funded under SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Indian officials also recalled how technical assistance was provided to Nepal through Saarc video conference and training course.
Nepal foreign minister

Pradeep Gyawali

was quoted as saying in Kathmandu that there was no alternatives to talks. “We can’t hold our entire ties hostage to the differences over the boundary issue,” he was quoted as saying by Kathmandu Post.
That the boundary issue will not figure in the upcoming talks was also confirmed by Gyawali. "For the time being, the boundary issues can be isolated. But sooner or later, we have to resolve them,” he said, adding that differences over one issue should not overshadow entire bilateral relations. "We have to move on. We believe in constructive engagement, and the upcoming meeting is just one positive step towards that end," he said.

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