Nepal and India have agreed to complete the remaining segment of boundary work, but the two countries did not specifically mention which one. A statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu on Friday morning said that during Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Kathmandu, high-ranking officials from both sides discussed the boundary issues and exchanged views on completing the boundary work in the remaining segments.
Nepal and India have some old outstanding boundary issues in Susta and Kalapani and a mechanism called Boundary Working Group is working to settle in and to erect the border pillars since 2014. A fresh boundary dispute surfaced between the two neighbors after New Delhi published a new map in November 2019 incorporating the disputed territories under its territory.
Countering the Indian decision, Nepal also unveiled a new political map in May this year incorporating the same disputed land under its territory. This led to the souring of bilateral relations. In their meeting, the two Foreign Secretaries discussed and reviewed various aspects of the bilateral ties between the two countries, the Indian Embassy statement said, adding that the diplomats expressed satisfaction at the substantial progress made in different sectors of cooperation despite the constraints of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The Nepali side appreciated the Indian government’s active facilitation in ensuring the smooth and unhindered cross-border flow of trade and commerce and the active implementation of development projects during this time. The two Foreign Secretaries agreed to maintain the renewed momentum in high-level bilateral engagements and to further strengthen the traditionally close, friendly, and multifaceted partnership between the two countries, the statement added.
During his stay in Kathmandu, Shringla called on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and conveyed greetings on behalf of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind. They discussed the close relationship between both countries and ways to further strengthen it. During his call on the Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Shringla conveyed greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He apprised Oli of his productive meetings with Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal. “Foreign Secretary Shringla underscored the consensus between both sides to maintain the momentum in bilateral engagements; strengthen people-to-people linkages, make tangible progress on substantive and strategic bilateral initiatives and issues of mutual interest,” the embassy statement said.
The Foreign Secretary conveyed an invitation from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to Gyawali to visit India for the next Joint Commission Meeting. In a separate ceremony following the meeting, Shringla handed over 2,000 vials of remdesivir injection to Gyawali for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. This follows on earlier Covid-related support by India to Nepal covering essential medicines, equipment, and capacity building since April.
He further assured India’s continued support to Nepal in providing Covid-related assistance. The Indian Foreign Secretary also met Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the opposition party and President of Nepali Congress, and discussed a wide range of issues including strengthening the Nepal-India ties. Shringla will return to New Delhi on Friday afternoon after completing his two-day visit after inaugurating two India-funded projects in Nepal.