EPG members agree to work on new pactThe Eminent Person Group (EPG) on Nepal-India Relations has agreed, in principle, to recommend the governments of both the countries to replace the 1950 Peace and Friendship
The Eminent Person Group (EPG) on Nepal-India Relations has agreed, in principle, to recommend the governments of both the countries to replace the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty with a new one in a remarkable achievement for the eight-member panel which held its third meeting in Kathmandu on Wednesday and Thursday.
During the third meeting of the EPG, which has four members each from Nepal and India, both sides also decided to work on the text of the new treaty when they meet again in May-end in Dehradun of India.
We were almost one on bringing a new treaty to replace the old one, said a Nepali member. “After our presentation on why Nepal needs to replace the old treaty, the Indian side expressed its readiness to work together,” he added.
Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Nilamber Acharya, Surya Nath Upadhyay and Rajan Bhattarai are members in the EPG from the Nepali side whereas the Indian side is represented by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Jayant Prasad, Mahendra P Lama and BC Upreti.
We, said the Nepali member, have agreed that the present status quo cannot continue for long and both sides agreed that there was a need to bring a new treaty to inject stimulus and energy to bilateral ties.
The EPG is entrusted with the responsibility of putting together a mutually agreed document to suggest ways to strengthen bilateral ties in view of evolving regional dynamics and world order. The 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty is one of the most contentious issues in Nepal-India ties, and some critics believe this boxes Nepal as India’s subservient neighbour.
At the end of the two-day meeting in Kathmandu, Thapa, who leads the Nepali side in the EPG, said both sides have agreed to make changes in current state of bilateral ties given a sea change that the region and the world have gone through and in view of Nepal’s engagements with outside world.
“We have entered a key phase now. The next meeting will dwell on the contents of the new treaty. We also expect headway on issues like cooperation in water resources, trade and transit, boundary, political relations and confidence-building measures and others during the fourth meeting,” he said, describing the development as a positive step as it would help bring the relations between the two countries in tune with times.
During the meeting, Indian members in the EPG, according to the Nepali side, have taken Nepal’s proposal to bring a new treaty positively and suggested that the group should sort out the issues gradually as it still has another one year and a half to resolve them. On cooperation on water resources, the Indian side has said that a meeting point should be sought to address the interests of both the countries. On trade and transit, they have called on the Nepali side to list out issues where Nepal is facing problems The Nepali side on Wednesday and Thursday gave presentations on its reservations about some articles of the 1950 treaty and proposed some alternatives.