Third EPG meeting to begin in Capital todayThe third meeting of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations begins in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
The third meeting of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations begins in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
The meeting is taking place after a hiatus of six months. During the last two meetings held in the two countries, both sides had made three presentations involving Nepal’s perception of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, transit arrangements between India and Nepal, and social and cultural aspects of the bilateral relations. The members engaged in their first discussion held in Kathmandu on reviewing the 1950 Treaty in order to update and revise it in accordance with the needs of the changing times.
The second meeting of the EPG that took place in New Delhi in October last year officially decided to review and contextualise the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which is often termed a bedrock of modern ties of the neighbouring countries.
In the third meeting, the two sides will have a clause-wise discussion on the treaty. The main focus of the Nepali side, according to one official, is Article 5 of the treaty, which states: “The government of Nepal shall be free to import, from or through the territory of India, arms, ammunition or war-like material and equipment necessary for the security of Nepal. The procedure for giving effect to this arrangement shall be worked out by the two governments acting in consultation.”
The Indian side is concerned over Article 7 of the treaty that calls both the parties to provide equal treatment to the citizen of the other side. According “the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature” is also considered controversial.
Nepal has been denying such treatment to Indian citizens due to the size of its geography, the huge demographic gap, limited opportunities for job and various other reasons. Since India is a big country with a huge population and plenty of opportunities, said officials, Nepal cannot afford such privileges to Indian citizens. The Nepali side is looking for some other arrangement during the negotiations.
Co-chair of the EPG and leader of the Nepali side, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa said that both sides have already rolled out their respective positions in last two meetings. The issues would be taken up in the third meeting before arriving at a conclusion.
The Nepali side held extensive discussions and interactions with people living in the areas bordering with India, political leaders and security agencies, before setting its agenda.
Nepal’s current focus is on reviewing or revisiting the treaties, agreements and arrangements with India by charting out a roadmap of the bilateral relationship that is multi-faceted and characterised by social, economic, religious and cultural elements.
According to a statement, the EPG had agreed during the last meeting on the need to preserve the mutuality of interests, and strengthen the people-to-people ties.
All aspects of the bilateral relations will be discussed, said another member, Rajan Bhattarai.