Nepal PM Oli calls Modi, talks about boosting ties
Nepal looks forward to a meaningful bilateral cooperation, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in a phone conversation on Saturday, the first contact at the highest level between the two sides since a a border row hit their ties.
Oli called Modi to congratulate him on India’s 74th Independence Day, and expressed his appreciation for the Indian leader’s renewed priority to the neighbourhood, as spelt out in his Independence Day address.
The two leaders last spoke on April 10 to discuss the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, Nepal protested against the opening of a road by India to Lipulekh on the border with Tibet, and ties were hit further when Kathmandu published a new political map that depicted the Kalapani area, controlled by India, as a Nepalese territory.
Saturday’s phone conversation, which was widely anticipated in diplomatic circles, provided an opportunity for the two sides to clear the air and take forward the process of addressing their differences, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
The conversation also came two days before a meeting in Kathmandu of the India-Nepal joint oversight mechanism, a body that oversees the implementation of development projects funded by New Delhi. The body, launched in 2016, is chaired by Indian envoy Vinay Mohan Kwatra and Nepal’s foreign secretary Shanker Das Bairagi.
“Prime Minister Oli appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s renewed priority to neighbourhood as spelt out in today’s Independence Day address. The Prime Minister of Nepal looked forward to meaningful bilateral cooperation,” said a readout from Nepal’s foreign ministry.
A statement from the external affairs ministry said the leaders “expressed mutual solidarity in the context of the efforts being made to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in both countries”, and Modi offered India’s continued support to Nepal in this regard.
“Prime Minister thanked the Prime Minister of Nepal for his telephone call and recalled the civilisational and cultural links that India and Nepal share,” the statement added.
In his speech, Modi said India is forging deeper connections with its neighbours through a partnership of security, development and trust. Noting that a quarter of the world’s population lives in South Asia, he said the countries of the region can create countless opportunities for the development and prosperity of such a large population through cooperation and partnership.
“All the leaders of the countries of the region have a huge responsibility, an important responsibility for the development and progress of such a vast population,” he said. “The more peace and harmony there is in this whole region, the more it will work for the welfare of humanity,” he added.
Oli congratulated Modi on India’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and expressed his “best wishes for the successful discharge of this important responsibility”, the Nepalese foreign ministry’s readout said.
The two leaders exchanged views on latest efforts in the fight against Covid-19 and agreed to work together in this area, it said. While underlining the need for early development of a vaccine, Oli expressed the hope that scientists around the world, including in India, will be able to develop it in order to control and prevent the disease from spreading further, it added.
The two leaders also agreed to continue discussions on bilateral matters in the future.