New Delhi has a given thumbs down to a proposal for trilateral cooperation involving Nepal, India and China.
“It is too early to work on trilateral cooperation,” external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told a group of visiting Nepali journalists at his office in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Nepali newspapers quoted Khurshid as saying that though India is happy to work with Nepal and China bilaterally, it was not ready for a trilateral cooperation involving both countries.
Reports quoting the minister said India is still in the process of discovering China after the 1962 war and has misgivings on a trilateral pact due to Beijing’s closeness to Pakistan.
The idea of trilateral cooperation among the three neighbours was first publicly made by Yang Houlan, former Chinese ambassador to Kathmandu, at an interaction with journalists last year.
“We would like to have more cooperation with India to support Nepal’s development. We are positive about this kind of trilateral cooperation,” the senior diplomat had said.
Though there has been no admission in this regard from India, Houlan had stated that there have been “many consultations” between New Delhi and Beijing on working together to develop Nepal.
As one of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal, which is sandwiched between India and China, hopes to benefit from the rapid economic progress made by the two neighbours.
Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai had said the country could act as a bridge between India and China and the idea of trilateral cooperation is very much in vogue in Kathmandu.
Maoist party chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who returned from a trip to China last week, talked about this model of cooperation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During his deliberations he proposed that the three neighbours should work together to develop Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal, and the Chisapani hydro-power project.
Prachanda is scheduled to visit New Delhi later this week and meet several Indian leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.