Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returned home on Sunday after concluding his maiden visit to India during which he discussed the boundary issues with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and the two leaders agreed to address it through existing mechanism, dialogue and diplomacy.
The two Prime Ministers on Saturday held extensive talks in New Delhi covering various key facets of close neighbourly ties between the two countries.
Deuba, accompanied by a high-level delegation, arrived in New Delhi on Friday on a three-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.
“The bilateral talks and exchange of views were fruitful towards further strengthening cooperative relations between the two countries,” Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka, who was also part of the entourage, said while talking to reporters here on Sunday.
Prime Minister Modi said that India is always concerned about Nepal’s development and assured New Delhi’s continued assistance to Kathmandu in its prioritised sectors, Khadka added.
“During the talks, the two Prime Ministers also discussed boundary issues and the two leaders agreed to address such issues through existing mechanism and through holding dialogue and diplomacy,” he said.
Khadka’s statement assumes importance after Prime Minister Deuba on Saturday publicly urged the Indian prime minister to resolve the boundary issue through the establishment of a bilateral mechanism.
Hours later at a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there was a general understanding that the issue needed to be addressed in a responsible manner through dialogue and its “politicisation” should be avoided.
“The issue was briefly discussed. There was a general understanding that both sides needed to address this in a responsible manner through discussion and dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly relations and politicisation of such issues needs to be avoided,” Shringla said.
Shringla’s comments on the need for avoiding politicisation of the boundary row assume significance as then Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli in 2020 attempted to use the issue to fend off increasing domestic pressure and challenge to his leadership.
The bilateral ties between New Delhi and Kathmandu had come under strain under then Nepalese Prime Minister Oli’s government, which came out with a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as Nepal’s 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.
Matters such as cooperation in education, health, energy, trade and cross border transmission lines, enhancing cross border connectivity through railway line construction, construction of integrated check post and dry port, promoting bilateral trade mainly featured during the talks between the two leaders, Khadka said.
“Prime Minister Deuba also met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during which they discussed a variety of issues regarding promoting mutual interests and moving forward bilateral relations,” Khadka said.
Prime Minister Deuba also urged the Indian business leaders to invest in Nepal for bringing about economic prosperity and assured that Nepal government is effortful in bringing legal and policy level reforms for attracting foreign investment in the country.
“The visit also provided a platform to interact and exchange ideas between Nepalese and Indian business fraternity,” the minister said.
“It is our firm belief that the high-level talks Prime Minister Deuba had with Prime Minister Modi and other leaders and high officials in Delhi helped in further strengthening bilateral cooperation, collaboration and understanding between the two countries, Khadka said.
Prime Minister Deuba also extended his invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Nepal and in response the Indian leader recalled his past visits to Nepal and assured to visit again at appropriate time.
It was Deuba’s first bilateral visit abroad after becoming prime minister in July last year for a fifth time following a spell of political turmoil in Kathmandu.
Deuba had visited India in each of his four earlier stints as prime minister of Nepal. His last visit to India in his capacity as the prime minister was in 2017.
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