General M M Naravane meets Nepal PM as ties head for a reset
New Delhi, Nov 06: Indian Army Chief, General M M Naravane met with Prime Minister of Nepal, K P Oli today.
Sources tell OneIndia that the Army Chief first visited Mount Everest on a one hour flight, following which he visited the Nepal Army Staff College. Both leaders would discuss defence-related issues as well, the source cited above said.
A lot of backchannel dialogues have taken place prior to this and the visit would put the same to test. New Delhi had put on hold talks with Nepal earlier this year after a new map was cleared by Nepal's parliament. The map incorporates Indian territory near its border with China.
Officials say that the Army Chief's meeting with the Nepal PM could lead to the resumption of foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries. Several crucial issues will be discussed at today's meeting and if all goes well then the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two sides will resume.
Further, both sides are also hopeful that the controversy over the road construction via Lipulekh will be laid to rest. Further, both sides would also look to arrange a meeting of the Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee.
It may be recalled that ahead of this visit, Research and Analysis Wing chief, Samant Kumar Goel had paid a visit to Nepal. During the visit last week, he held talks with Oli and emphasised on the friendly relations between the two countries.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory. Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
In the midst of the row, General Naravane had said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to the road at the behest of "someone else", in an apparent reference to a possible role by China in the matter. The comments triggered angry reactions from Nepal.
India too had published a new map in November 2019 showing the areas as its territories.
After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a "unilateral act" and cautioning Kathmandu that such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
In June, Nepal's Parliament approved the new political map of the country featuring areas which India maintains belong to it.
In its reaction, after Nepal's lower house of parliament approved the bill, India termed as untenable the "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims by the neighbouring country.
India said Nepal's action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.
The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory - India as part of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.