India says open to dialogue with Nepal, ties on upswing

Nepalese media report says call between Modi and Oli has failed to materialise.

May 28, 2020 10:39 pm | Updated 11:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Anurag Srivastava

Anurag Srivastava

India is open to dialogue with all its neighbours, the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday responding to sharp comments emanating from Kathmandu regarding the Kalapani territorial dispute .

The spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, maintained that dialogue with Nepal required “positive efforts” even as a Nepalese media outlet reported on Thursday that an expected telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart K. P. Sharma Oli has failed to materialise.

“On the recent developments on boundary issue... India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence,” Mr. Srivastava said, making a statement on India’s relations with Nepal.

Also read: India should pull out forces from Kalapani: Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali

The official emphasised that India “attaches great importance” to ties with Nepal, which were rooted in historical, cultural and friendly exchanges. The MEA’s statement came a day after Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali urged India to restore ‘status quo’ in the disputed territory of Kalapani and withdraw the Indian security forces from the Kalapani-Lipulekh region.

Mr. Srivastava pointed to the bilateral collaborations in South Asia to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and said, India’s ties with Nepal had been on an “upward trajectory”. The Indian statement continues to indicate a warmer approach to Nepal though there are serious issues that may require a quick diplomatic solution.

Also read: Gen. Naravane has hurt Gurkha sentiments: Nepal Minister

Nepal’s Parliament has taken up the constitution amendment bill that would give constitutional status to the new Nepali map, which includes the Kalapani region. Experts have warned that such a move would make a future solution to the problem more difficult. The main opposition party in Kathmandu, the Nepali Congress, sought more time on Wednesday to discuss the amendment and it now appears that the party will reach a decision on the issue by Saturday, when the party’s Central Committee meeting is scheduled.

Also read: Cold neighbourhood: On India-Nepal ties

However, sources in Kathmandu indicated that India was yet to display proactive diplomacy. On Thursday, Nepal’s Nayapatrika, reported that a telephone conversation between the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal was cancelled at the last moment recently. The news website cited Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula as having confirmed that the Indian side had referred to Mr. Modi’s busy schedule while cancelling the pre-arranged telephone conversation.

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