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Nepal PM Oli seeks ‘meaningful bilateral ties’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli on Saturday called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held a discussion, sources in Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed. A Nepalese official statement declared that Mr Oli sought "meaningful bilateral cooperation" with India.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that anti-COVID-19 cooperation was discussed during the phone call.

"The leaders expressed mutual solidarity in the context of the efforts being made to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries. Prime Minister offered India's continued support to Nepal in this regard," declared a press statement from the MEA elaborating on the content of the phone call.

Mr. Oli had earlier greeted Mr. Modi on his social media accounts on the occasion of Independence Day. "Congratulations and greetings to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the Government and people of India on the happy occasion of the 74th Independence Day. Best wishes for more progress and prosperity of the people of India," said Mr Oli in a post on one of his official social media handles. 

Sources in the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal said the telephonic conversation lasted for 15 minutes and the two leaders exchanged thoughts about multiple issues.

The Hindu had earlier reported that the telephonic conversation was expected on Saturday and diplomats on both sides had been working to make this happen. The high level contact came after nearly nine months of tension and war of words after India asserted control over the Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura region of Pithoragarh which is claimed by Nepal. 

Nepal issued a map in response which depicted the region as part of Nepalese sovereign territory and urged India to convene Foreign Secretary-level dialogue to address Nepal's concerns. The phone call is expected to boost the upcoming "oversight mechanism" level dialogue which is planned for next week.

The  discussion between the Foreign Secretary of Nepal Shankar Bairagi and Indian ambassador to Kathmandu Vinay Mohan Kwatra will focus on bilateral development projects and other issues  like border security and COVID-19 management. However the Kalapani issue is unlikely to be part of this initiative. 

The telephonic chat comes ahead of an expected reshuffle of the cabinet of Prime Minister Oli who seems to have thwarted a tough challenge from rivals in the ruling Nepal Communist Party led by Co-Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda". The reshuffle is likely to further firm up Mr Oli's hold over the current power structure of Nepal which will face a general election three years later.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 8:36:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nepal-pm-oli-calls-up-modi-on-independence-day/article32362237.ece

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