Can resolve all issues through dialogue, says Nepal PM Oli
Nepal PM meets Army chief amid map row, discusses strengthening of ties.
India and Nepal can resolve all problems between them through dialogue as they have a long-standing special relationship, Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli told visiting Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday.
Oli’s remarks came against the backdrop of a border row that took bilateral ties to a fresh low earlier this year. Naravane’s visit, during which he was conferred the honorary rank of general of the Nepali Army in keeping with a long-standing tradition, was seen as an effort to improve the relationship.
Naravane’s meeting with Oli was seen as the most important engagement during his three-day visit, apart from his talks on Thursday with his Nepali Army counterpart Gen Purna Chandra Thapa.
Rajan Bhattarai, the foreign affairs adviser to Nepal’s premier, tweeted that Oli said during the meeting that Nepal and India have a “long-standing special relationship”. Oli also expressed confidence that there is real friendship between the two countries and all problems between them could be resolved through dialogue, Bhattarai said.
Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Narravane conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s best wishes to Oli and the two sides exchanged views on their bilateral partnership. Naravane said he would work to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, according to a statement from the Indian embassy in Kathmandu.
The Indian Army added in a tweet that Oli and Naravane discussed the strengthening of bilateral defence and strategic ties.
Naravane also addressed student officers and faculty of the Nepali Army Command and Staff College at Shivapuri earlier on Friday. He recalled the historical linkages between both countries and said these transcend professional exchanges and annual joint exercises.
Before winding up his visit, Naravane visited the Indian embassy, where he was briefed about welfare activities for more than 230,000 Indian Army veterans and their families in Nepal.
Nearly 30,000 Gurkhas serve in seven regiments of the Indian Army.
As a reflection of the importance attached by India to these ties, Naravane presented the second tranche of ₹5 lakh out of the total aid of ₹10 lakh announced for Lance Havaldar (retired) Dil Bahadur Chettri, who won the Mahavir Chakra for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
Chhetri quit service on his own request in 1976 due to personal reasons before reaching the age of retirement. However, he had no major source of income and survived solely on his gallantry award allowance. The financial assistance was approved as a welfare measure to alleviate his hardships and he was given the first tranche of ₹5 lakh in November last year.
The Indian Army chief’s visit came months after bilateral ties were hit in May, when 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.
The visit was expected to prepare the ground for more political engagements and talks on the border issue.