Nepal for ties based on mutual respect

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Oli prior to their meeting, at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Placing barriers on movement of goods and people is incompatible with the modern era, said Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on Saturday, in an indirect reference to the economic blockade of his country, which lasted for several months during 2015-‘16.

Interconnected Asia

Strongly pitching for an interconnected Asian continent, the visiting leader said Kathmandu has embarked on a path of social and economic development after 2017 multi-level elections and urged greater connectivity, trade and electricity cooperation with India.

“We need to ensure that bilateral as well as regional connectivity and transit arrangements run smoothly without any interruption at all times. Recourse to obstacles in the movement of goods, services and people should not have any place in today’s interconnected world and in interconnected neighbourhood ,” said Mr. Oli at a civic reception hosted by the India Foundation here.

This was the first time that a Nepali Prime Minister has even obliquely referred to the blockade at a public meeting in Delhi. Minister of State for External Affairs General (Rtd.) V. K. Singh, speaking after Mr. Oli, said the visiting leader had made a set of ‘candid’ observations.

The blockade, which lasted many months, took place during Mr. Oli’s last tenure as prime minister. Nepali leaders had then blamed India for supporting the Madhesi groups from the Nepal’s plains that had imposed the punitive measure seeking changes in the 2015 Constitution. India had maintained that the blockade was an internal matter of Nepal and had to be resolved through dialogue among various Nepali parties.

Mr. Oli said the new Constitution of Nepal, under which the multi-level election was held in 2017, was the result of decades of struggle and sacrifice by the people of the country and reflects their collective aspiration.

He also argued strongly for autonomy of Nepal in deciding its foreign policy choices — between India and China — and said he was building a global network to support its developmental requirements.

“We are mindful that we alone cannot undertake the journey to prosperity. We need support of our friends from all over the world, particularly from our neighbourhood,” he said, and added, “there is some confusion about us being close to this or that neighbour. We want friendship of all for prosperous and happy Nepal. There should be no confusion in this.”

Earlier, following delegaton-level talks at the Hyderabad House, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Oli sought relations with India based on shared values and said, “Neighbourhood realities make peaceful coexistence based on principles of equality, justice, mutual respect and benefits, a necessity for shared destiny.”

Highlighting political stability in Nepal, Mr. Oli who commands a 2/3rds majority in the Nepali parliament said his visit is aimed at establishing a “strong edifice” of two neighbours that will lead to a “model relationship”. He also noted that the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) set up during his last visit in 2016 is likely to come up with useful recommendations for the “overall review” of India-Nepal ties.

MEA officials however, insisted that the ongoing visit and conversation between Prime Minister Oli and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were “forward-looking”.

Displaying successful India-Nepal cooperation, both the leaders inaugurated the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Birgunj in Nepal during the press event at the Hyderabad House.

India’s support

Prime Minister Modi on his part pledged India’s support to Nepal’s growing needs saying, “India has a long history of supporting Nepal. I have promised that India will support Nepal in economic development. As always, this support will be based on the priorities and necessities decided by the government of Nepal.”

The ICP is expected to facilitate streamlining of border trade between two sides.

They also witnessed through video link, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross-border petroleum products pipeline. Apart from these two events, three joint statements on agriculture, expanding rail linkages between Raxaul and Kathmandu, and new connectivity plans through inland waterways, were also signed.

“Infrastructure and connectivity are vital agendas of our bilateral relations. We are connected by easy geography while our cross border infrastructure is still poor,” said Mr. Oli pushing for connecting roads and railways. He also pitched for trade of hydroelectricity between two sides and urged for realisation of the bilateral power trade agreement that was finalised in 2014.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 9:50:29 AM |

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