EPG set to exchange draft in Dec meetingThe Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), an autonomous body set up to review the bilateral relations between Nepal and India, is set to exchange a preliminary draft regarding the amendment of 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty at the upcoming meeting.
The Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), an autonomous body set up to review the bilateral relations between Nepal and India, is set to exchange a preliminary draft regarding the amendment of 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty at the upcoming meeting. The third meeting of EPG since its establishment in 2011 is scheduled to take place in the third week of December in Kathmandu.
During the second meeting in New Delhi in October, the Indian side had reacted positively to Nepal’s proposal to review or replace the treaty with a new one due to changed context on the both sides.
The replacement of treaty was on top of Nepal’s agenda, with members of the Nepali side having held consultations with political leaders on revisions and changes that Nepal deems necessary in a new template.
There will be an exchange of drafts at the third meeting, with both sides coming up with ways to amend the treaty—a key task entrusted to them, a member of EPG said, requesting anonymity.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already made its position clear on all 10 Articles of the treaty since 2001 that Nepal wants to change, according to Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, coordinator from the Nepali side.
“We have already told our Indian counterparts what we had in our minds and hearts about the treaty; our good intention behind revision of the treaty and what kind of replacement we want to see in the new dispensation,” said Thapa.
He added that the two sides would enter into new agendas like water resources, border and boundary, security, commerce, trade, among others topics at the third meeting.
He refused to go into the specifics about the draft exchange, but hinted that the Nepali side has done enough homework on the matters.
At the second meeting, Thapa had presented in detail on how Nepal wants to amend the treaty to make it ‘equal’ for both countries.
“There has been an agreement that both sides prepare their respective drafts and exchange them for a clause-wise discussion,” said a member of the Indian side at the time.
India’s perennial security concern and providing national treatment to the Indian citizens in Nepal as per the Article 6 of the treaty remain the main contentious issues, according to a member from the Nepali team.
After the second EPG meeting and ahead of the fourth joint commission meeting at Foreign Minister level held in New Delhi, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had written a letter to the Foreign Ministry of Nepal, seeking purchasing property rights to the Indian citizens in Nepal as stated in the treaty. But the Nepali side denied providing such rights to the Indian citizens citing demographic and geographical reasons.
Sources said that matters related to security, open border, ensuring national treatment to each other’s nationals are some of the contentious issues likely to dominate when they exchange the drafts even as members of the group claimed to have already prepared a blueprint of such templates.
“We want to change the provision of taking the consent of India while purchasing military hardware from third countries and it is very difficult to forge consensus on this issue,” said a Nepali member of the group.