India calls for ‘constructive and positive efforts’ to resolve border row with Nepal

Kathmandu, May 29 : India on Thursday called for “constructive and positive efforts” to end a border row with Nepal, saying mutual sensitivity and an environment of trust are necessary for handling such issues among neighbours.

Earlier this week, the Nepal government deferred its plan to move a constitutional amendment in Parliament to update the country’s political map, which depicts Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepalese territory, after the main opposition Nepali Congress party sought time to discuss the issue.

This development allowed some breathing room for the two sides to tackle the border row, which began after Nepal protested against India’s recent opening of an 80-km road to Lipulekh on the Chinese border. Nepal claims Lipulekh but the external affairs ministry contended the road was “completely within the territory of India”.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a virtual news briefing that India is monitoring the situation in Nepal related to recent developments on the boundary issue. “We note this matter is receiving careful consideration in Nepal, taking its seriousness into account,” he said.

“India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence. This is a continuous process and requires constructive and positive efforts,” he added, without giving details.

Nepal’s budget for fiscal 2020-21 was presented in Parliament on Thursday, and much of the discussions within the House are expected to focus on it. The Nepali Congress is scheduled to meet on Saturday to discuss the constitutional amendment, while the government is planning to take up the matter again on Sunday.

The constitutional amendment is necessary to give legal backing to the new political map. While India has said Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are part of its territory, it has remained open to dialogue to resolve the issue.

The ruling Nepal Communist Party has a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly or upper house of Parliament, enough to pass the amendment, but needs the support of other parties to pass it in the House of Representatives or lower house.

Srivastava said India attaches “great importance” to its historical and friendly relations with Nepal. “In recent years, our relations have been on an upward trajectory which is evident from expanding and diversified bilateral cooperation and increased [Indian] assistance for development and connectivity projects,” he said.

“This has resulted in timely implementation of several large-scale and critical projects. Even in these challenging times of Covid-19 pandemic, India has ensured unimpeded trade and supply of essentials, including medicines to Nepal, besides providing assistance in terms of medical supplies and other facilitation,” he added.

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