Foreign secretaries of Nepal and India review projects, discuss regional issuesNepal and India on Thursday made comprehensive review of India-funded projects in Nepal during the official visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.
Nepal and India on Thursday made comprehensive review of India-funded projects in Nepal during the official visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.
This is Gokhale’s first visit to Nepal after taking charge as foreign secretary of India in January 2018.
The review meeting took place after the fifth meeting of the Joint Commission at foreign ministers’ level in Kathmandu, which was initially proposed for February, could not take place at that time as Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was occupied with election campaign.
According to Rajan Bhattarai, foreign relations adviser to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, as Indian elections are round the corner and the meeting of the Joint Commission at foreign ministers’ level was postponed, the Indian foreign secretary decided to visit Nepal.
Gokhale, who arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday morning, held delegation level talks with his Nepali counterpart Shanker Das Bairagi before meeting with Prime Minister Oli and Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali.
During the three reciprocal visits of Prime Minister Oli and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, Nepal and India had set deadline to resolve all pending issues and remove the bottlenecks.
Both foreign secretaries reported to Oli that there has been significant progress on many bilateral fronts and India-funded projects, according to Bhattarai. During the meeting, Oli advised both foreign secretaries to continue reviewing the progress and find ways to deal with all outstanding issues, he added.
According to the Foreign Ministry, both foreign secretaries discussed different aspects of Nepal-India relations and reviewed the status of implementation of the various projects including those pertaining to agriculture, connectivity, railway and waterways.
“While expressing satisfaction on the progress made in many areas of cooperation in the past year, both sides agreed to expedite progress on early resolution of pending issues,” the ministry said in a statement.
Both foreign secretaries of Nepal and India have also been following up on the matters agreed during the high-level visits through video conferencing.
During his meetings with Gyawali and Bairagi, Gokhale also raised the issue of terrorism, calling for countering it for regional peace and stability, sources said.
In response, both Gyawali and Bairagi apprised the visiting Indian foreign secretary of Nepal’s principal position on terrorism and said that Nepal is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, an official who was present in the meeting, told the Post.
The Embassy of India said both the officials expressed satisfaction at the substantial progress made in recent times.
“They expressed satisfaction at the substantial progress that has been achieved on bilateral projects and initiatives that were discussed and agreed to during the reciprocal visits of prime ministers of Nepal and India in April and May 2018,” read a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. “The two foreign secretaries agreed to maintain the momentum in bilateral engagement across diverse sectors of cooperation and to further strengthen the traditionally close, friendly and multifaceted partnership between the two countries.”
During the foreign secretary-level meeting, both sides reviewed the progress made in India-funded projects in Nepal, ways to remove bottlenecks in order to expedite them. According to both sides, two foreign secretaries discussed progress made in cross-border rail projects, construction of the integrated check posts, transmission lines, Upper Karnali hydroelectricity project, Arun III project, Pancheshwar Development Authority, Tarai road projects, Mahakali bridges, Line of Credit projects and reconstruction projects funded by India.
Similarly, some long-pending issues like preparation of the detailed project report of Pancheshwar Development Authority, part of the Mahakali Treaty, construction of the Nepal Police Academy building and Indian aid for Nepal’s reconstruction projects under the grant scheme (housing, cultural heritage, health, education) and line of credits of $750 million were figured in the meeting.
The two neighbours have yet to settle $750 million Indian soft loan on post-earthquake reconstruction projects in partnership with the government of Nepal, within the inter-governmental framework.