Kathmandu: Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra and his Nepali counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal during a bilateral meeting here on Monday reviewed various aspects of Nepal-India relations and expressed commitment to allow the export of power from Nepal to India on a long-term basis.
Kwatra arrived here on a two-day official visit to hold talks with the country’s top leaders on the entire range of multifaceted cooperation between the two neighbouring countries, including connectivity, trade and transit, power sector cooperation, agriculture, education, culture, health sector, and people to people relations, among others.
Soon after his arrival here, Kwatra met his Nepalese counterpart Paudyal and “the two sides reviewed with satisfaction the progress made in the connectivity projects such as railways, transmissions lines, bridges, and the ICPs”, said a statement issued by the Nepalese Foreign Ministry.
“The two sides also expressed commitment to allow the export of power from Nepal to India on a long-term basis utilising all products of the exchange market. They also discussed technical upgrading of cross-border transmission lines and early approval of the four proposed transmission line projects under the LOC-IV,” the statement said.
“The two sides discussed the early conclusion of the renewed transit treaty, review of the trade treaty, and convening of the inter-governmental committee on trade (IGC) at an early date.”
Foreign Secretary Paudyal reiterated the request to the Indian government for additional air-entry routes as well as early concurrence of the near border flight operation of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, according to the statement.
“The two foreign secretaries also discussed the boundary matters. In this regard, they exchanged views on completing the boundary works in the remaining segments through the established bilateral mechanisms.”
Both Foreign Secretaries reviewed the progress made in the implementation of the commitments made during the Prime Ministerial visits held last year, including in the areas of cross border connectivity, hydropower cooperation, culture, trade and commerce, according to the MEA press release.
On railway connectivity, both sides agreed for the early completion and operationalisation of the remaining sections of the Jaynagar-Kurtha-Bijalpura-Bardibas and the Jogbani-Biratnagar rail links, as well as taking further steps on the proposed Raxaul-Kathmandu rail link, and committed to expediting the procedural requirements, to enable their early implementation, it said.
The two sides also appreciated the progress made in the energy cooperation last year, wherein Nepal is now able to export 452.6 MW power to India, creating additional sources of revenue for Nepal and energy for India, the press release stated.
The Nepalese side requested Indian side to explore allowing power export on long term basis, it said.
They also requested for utilising all products of the exchange market in order to further enhance power trade between India and Nepal, it added.
While reiterating commitment to the full implementation of the Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector Cooperation agreed between India and Nepal in April 2022, the two Foreign Secretaries agreed to also work together for mutually beneficial cooperation in the sub-regional context, it added.
They also agreed to finalise the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the foreign service academies of the two countries.
The meeting was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere reflecting the close and multifaceted relations between the two neighbours, said the statement.
Paudyal later hosted a lunch in the honour of the visiting Indian foreign secretary and the members of his delegation.
In the afternoon, Kwatra also called on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Bimala Rai Paudyal.
Kwatra paid a courtesy call to Bhandari at the Sheetal Niwas here and conveyed the greetings on behalf of the President of India Droupadi Murmu.
“Matters of mutual interests were discussed during the calls on,” the statement said.
The Foreign Secretary of India arrived in Kathmandu on Monday morning on a two-day visit to the Himalayan nation.
During his visit, Kwatra, who was earlier India’s ambassador here, is expected to discuss with his Nepalese interlocutors the possibility of a visit to India by Prime Minister Prachanda.
Prachanda has said that he will travel to India on his first foreign visit.
Seven members each from Nepal and India took part in the Foreign Secretary-level bilateral meeting.
Indian Ambassador to Nepal Naveen Srivastava was among the members of the Indian delegation while Joint Secretary and spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry Sewa Lamsal was among the members of the Nepalese delegation.
This is the first high-level visit from India after Prime Minister Prachanda assumed office for the third time in December.
“The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the Ministry of External Affairs has said.
India’s Neighbourhood First’ policy is an integral component of Indian foreign policy.
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The policy seeks to build cordial and synergetic relations with India’s South Asian neighbours in various areas such as economy, science and technology, research, and education, among others.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
Nepal shares a border of more than 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.
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