Army chief General Naravane presents medical gear to Nepali Army
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane presented medical equipment to the Nepali Army including X-Ray machines, computed radiography systems, ICU ventilators, video endoscopy units, anesthesia machines, laboratory equipment and ambulances, the Indian Embassy in Nepal said in a statement on Thursday.
Naravane reached Kathmandu on Wednesday on a three-day visit that is expected to smoothen bilateral ties with Nepal after a bitter border row.
“Additional ventilators were also gifted to assist Nepali Army in its fight against Covid-19 pandemic. This follows an earlier army-to-army provision of ventilators in July this year,” the statement said.
On Thursday, Naravane laid a wreath and paid homage at Bir Smarak (Martyr’s Memorial) at the Army Pavilion in Tundikhel, Kathmandu. He was later accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour at the Nepali Army Headquarters where he held talks with his counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa.
Both sides discussed army-to-army relations and enhancing bilateral defence cooperation, the statement said.
Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari will also confer the honorary rank of general of the Nepali Army on Naravane at an investiture ceremony.
The army chief’s visit comes months after bilateral ties were hit in May after defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a key border road to Lipulekh region, which is claimed by Nepal. Kathmandu responded by issuing a new map that showed Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, all controlled by India, as part of Nepalese territory, exacerbating the row.
Naravane’s visit is expected to lay the ground work for much anticipated talks between the two sides on the border issue.
His Nepal tour comes days after Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Kumar Goel made a low-key visit to Kathmandu during which he met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
The army chief is expected to interact with Indian Army pensioners in Nepal during the visit --- there are 136,000 pensioners in that country and form part of the strong links between the two sides.
This is Naravane’s second visit with diplomatic overtones, after last month’s tour of Myanmar, where he accompanied foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and was part of crucial talks on security cooperation and developmental issues.
Sameer Patil, fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, said it is crucial for India to maintain momentum in its ties with Nepal at a time when Beijing is trying to expand its influence in Kathmandu amid the India-China border standoff.
“There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work by both armies to mend the relationship and this is a good sign. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said we can’t choose our neighbours and Nepal is a neighbour we have to work with. The Chinese are pushing for greater proximity with Nepal, and one of the ways of doing that is sowing distrust between India and Nepal,” he said.