Nepali and Indian foreign secretaries meeting next weekNepal to take up issues including Agnipath Scheme, border dispute, Transit Treaty review, and energy cooperation.
After a gap of almost two years, foreign secretaries of Nepal and India are meeting next week in New Delhi, the Indian capital, to discuss various bilateral issues.
A Cabinet meeting has already approved the visit of Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudyal to New Delhi scheduled for September 13. Poudyal was invited by his Indian counterpart Vinay Mohan Katwra, who until April served as India’s ambassador to Kathmandu.
The meeting is scheduled to take place on September 13 and 14, according to the Foreign Ministry.
During the visit, the foreign secretary will hold a meeting with his Indian counterpart where the two sides will discuss different areas of cooperation between Nepal and India, the ministry said in a statement.
In the wake of heightening bilateral tensions between Nepal and India especially over boundary issues, the outgoing Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had visited Kathmandu in the last week of November 2020 and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.
Officials said that Nepal will take up all outstanding issues with the Indian side including settling the row over the Agnipath Scheme, boundary dispute, amendment to Nepal-India Transit Treaty, and energy cooperation, among others.
“This is a confidence-building meeting between Nepal and India. We will review the progress made in the recent visits of Nepali and Indian prime ministers to each other’s countries and the Agnipath Scheme, boundary issues, energy cooperation, amendment to the transit treaty and Indian assistance for November elections, among other things,” a Nepali official privy to the meeting, told the Post.
The foreign secretary-level meeting will forward its recommendations to a mechanism involving the foreign ministers of the two countries. The foreign minister-level meeting remains pending for the past two years.
During the visit next week, foreign secretary Poudyal will seek logistical support from India for the upcoming federal and provincial elections as sought by the Election Commission.
“We had already asked for at least 42 different kinds of vehicles for election purposes with the government. We are hopeful that the government will heed our request,” Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya said.
The EC’s request was forwarded to the Indian side through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to officials.
Of late, besides differences over boundary issues after Nepal unveiled the new political map in May 2020 by including the Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura areas, the Indian government’s Agnipath Scheme has also drawn controversy in Nepal and recruitment of Nepali youths in Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments remains halted. The scheme involves short-term recruitment of Nepali youths in the Indian Army and Nepali officials are unhappy about it. Nepali officials say India brought the scheme in violation of the Britain-Nepal-India tripartite agreement of 1947.
Besides the Agnipath scheme, the foreign secretaries will discuss additional air routes for Nepal through India, development of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, cooperation in the field of energy and power among others, said a foreign ministry official.