India-Nepal meet ‘soon’ to discuss all issues minus border dispute

Indian and Nepalese diplomats will meet ‘soon’ to discuss ongoing bilateral projects, high-level Nepalese official sources said on Tuesday. The discussion will be held under the “oversight mechanism” and is unlikely to include the Kalapani territorial dispute which has the soured ties.

“Nepalese Foreign Secretary Shankar Bairagi and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra will meet soon in Kathmandu. The date cannot be declared as yet but the meeting will be held,” said a Nepalese diplomat. It is understood that the “scheduled oversight mechanism meeting” will include various bilateral projects like infrastructure building, border trade and hydro electricity projects that India plans to undertake in Nepal. It is not yet clear if India will raise the complaints from the leadership of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar regarding the alleged role of Nepal behind the floods in the two States.

The meeting is however significant as it is the first time that the diplomats will sit down face to face since the ties have nosedived in November 2019 when India published a new political map that asserted its control over the disputed Kalapani region. Nepal responded by unveiling a new political map in May and firmed up its claim by giving it a constitutional status.

Oversight mechanism

Nepalese sources said the “oversight mechanism” could not meet since last winter because of transfer-related changes in the Indian embassy. However, these months have also been difficult for usual diplomatic exchanges because of the Kalapani issue. This particular dialogue ‘mechanism’ was launched in 2016 and the meeting will be the seventh edition under the arrangement.

The meeting which may take place on August 17 or later in the second fortnight is not qualified to discuss the controversial issues like the Kalapani dispute though it is expected to pave the way for contacts between the Foreign Secretaries. In view of the sensitivities involved in the Kalapani dispute in the western part of Nepal and the Susta dispute on the U.P.-Bihar border, the twin issues were taken out of the bilateral Survey Level Mechanism which looks after almost 98 % of the border related issues.

For a discussion on the Kalapani issue, the two Foreign Secretaries need to meet. “We have been urging India to sit down for talks since November last year. The dates we had proposed then have expired. Nepal is ready for talks, frankly it’s India that has to step forward for a Foreign Secretary-level dialogue on Kalapani and Susta,” said a Nepali diplomat.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 10:02:28 PM |

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