India and Nepal on Saturday discussed the Kalapani border dispute, said Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in New Delhi. Addressing the media after holding bilateral talks, the visiting Prime Minister jointly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first cross border rail link between India and Nepal. Nepal also became the 105th member country to sign on to the Framework Agreement of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
"We discussed the boundary issue and I urged Modiji to resolve it through the establishment of a bilateral mechanism," said Mr Deuba. The visit of the Nepalese leader is the first since the Kalapani boundary issue erupted in November 2019 after the revised political map of India depicted the triangular area of Kalapani-Lipulek-Limpiyadhura within the territory of Uttarakhand. In a tit-for-tat move, Kathmandu responded by placing a revised political map of the country in the national insignia of Nepal. Both sides were expected to address the issue under an existing mechanism led by the Foreign Secretaries but that meeting is yet to be announced. Nepal had earlier written to New Delhi seeking the meeting of the Foreign Secretary-level mechanism to discuss the border dispute at Kalapani.
India also urged Nepal to avoid "politicisation" of the boundary dispute. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla briefing the media after the talks said, "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, politicisation of such issues should be avoided." India's position on avoiding politicisation of the Kalapani issue appears to be aimed at the upcoming election season in the Himalayan country when emotive issues like the border dispute are expected to be raised during political campaigns by both the opposition led by former PM K P Sharma Oli and some sections of the ruling coalition of Nepali Congress and CPN - Maoist Center.
The two leaders inaugurated the broad gauge Jaynagar-Kurtha rail link that will establish rail connectivity to Janakpur in Nepal. India also launched the RuPay card facility in Nepal during the formal ceremony held at the Hyderabad House. "This would open new vistas for cooperation in financial connectivity, and is expected to facilitate bilateral tourist flows as well as further strengthen people to people linkages between India and Nepal," declared an official statement that was issued at the end of official discussion here.
The two sides came out with a Joint Vision Statement on Power Sector cooperation between India and Nepal recognising "unprecedented opportunities". Prime Minister Modi and PM Deuba jointly inaugurated the 90 km long 132 KVDC Solu Corridor Transmission line and substation that were built through the Line of Credit extended by India.
Addressing the meeting, Mr Modi said, "The close friendship between India and Nepal has no comparison anywhere in the world." He welcomed the Nepalese leader's decision to visit Varanasi on Sunday where Mr Deuba is expected to visit the Vishwanath temple. Both the leaders welcomed the February 28 Nepal-India agreement to enable long term supply of fertilizers from India to Nepal, a key demand of Kathmandu to deal with the fertilizer crisis in the country. For the past few years, Nepal's agriculture sector has been suffering from a shortage of urea and chemical fertilizers. Under the G-2-G agreement, Kathmandu can import around 210,000 metric tonnes of chemical fertilizer from India annually.
India and Nepal have been working on building a tourism circuit that connects the pilgrimage sites located in the two countries. The Vishwanath temple of Varanasi is part of that vision which intends to connect devotees with the Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu.
Mr Modi also referred to joint efforts to stop illegal activities and crime along the border between the two sides. India and Nepal have around 1850 km long open border and both sides are expected to undertake measures to strengthen the security situation along the border. Both sides also discussed security-related issues when National Security Adviser Ajit Doval called upon Prime Minister Deuba on Saturday morning.