India to seek security commitments, up defence ties with Nepal in Modi-Oli meet | india news | Hindustan Times
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India to seek security commitments, up defence ties with Nepal in Modi-Oli meet

The geographical location of Nepal and a large and porous border with India mandates that the security concerns come upfront, said an official ahead of the Modi-Oli meet.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2018 14:10 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in New Delhi.
Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in New Delhi. (AP)

India is likely to seek Nepal’s commitment on security and step up defence ties with it when the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Narendra Modi and K P Oli, meet on Saturday, officials familiar with the plans said.

Nepal is a key neighbour of India, sharing a border of 1,850 km with five Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand — and in the north with China.

“The geographical location of Nepal and a large and porous border with India mandates that the security concerns are interlinked between the two countries. And Nepal has been a close friend and partner of India. So security concerns come upfront,” said an official.

Another official said Prime Minister Oli is expected to assure India that it will not allow its soil to be used against neighbours.

“Whether it is India or China, this position has been articulated already,” the official said.

Oli is seen as a leader who wants to build China as a key partner of Nepal, stepping up trade and business ties.

Recently his government had signed up for Chinese President Xi Jingping’s One Road One Belt initiative and other economic cooperation even as India tries to find its old verve.

However, just ahead of his visit, Oli had said that he would desist from anything “that would be disgraceful to Nepal” and wants to maintain a “dignified relationship with India”.

Oli had also expressed his country’s interest to revive a USD 2.5 billion hydroelectric project with China. This deal with China’s Gezhouba Group Corporation, is touted as Nepal’s biggest hydropower project. Hydropower cooperation is a key aspect of India-Nepal ties.

India is also ready to step up defence ties with Nepal, especially in areas of training and joint exercises. In his earlier stint, Oli had accused India of destabilising his government after the blockade.

An official said that the two countries are also engaged in discussions on the joint statement where India would “welcome” the new constitution of Nepal.

Pacts related to agriculture research and development, education, seeking the possibility of inland water navigation ways and railway cooperation are expected to be signed after the meeting between two Prime Ministers on Saturday.

On Friday, Oli sought investments from Indian businesses and said Nepal offers investor-friendly environment and incentives for industries.

He said areas such as infrastructure, tourism, power, agriculture and IT hold huge opportunities for investors.

The bilateral trade between the two countries was USD 5.9 billion in 2016-17.