NEW DELHI, April 2 (PTI): Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to establish a bilateral mechanism to resolve the boundary issue while India said the general understanding between the two sides was to address it in a responsible manner and that its ‘politicisation’ should be avoided.
In his statement to the media in presence of Modi, Deuba said the boundary issue was discussed in the talks between the two sides and he urged the Indian Prime Minister to resolve it through the establishment of a bilateral mechanism.
Hours later at a media briefing, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there was a general understanding that the issue needed to be addressed in a responsible manner through dialogue and its ‘politicisation’ should be avoided.
Deuba arrived in New Delhi on Friday in his first bilateral visit abroad after becoming Prime Minister for the fifth time in July 2021.
“We discussed the boundary issues and I urged Modiji to resolve it through the establishment (of) bilateral mechanism,” Deuba said after the talks.
On his part, Modi said it was discussed that the open borders between India and Nepal are not misused by undesirable elements.
“We discussed that the open borders between India and Nepal are not misused by undesirable elements. We emphasised on deepening cooperation between our defence and security authorities. I am confident that our talks today will be able to attain the objective of achieving the ambitious targets of the India-Nepal ties,” he said.
Ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Kathmandu published a new political map in 2020 that showed the three Indian territories – Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh – as part of Nepal.
On its part, India reacted sharply, calling it a ‘unilateral act’ and cautioned Kathmandu that such ‘artificial enlargement’ of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
“The issue was briefly discussed. There was a general understanding that both sides needed to address this in a responsible manner through discussion and dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly relations and politicisation of such issues needs to be avoided,” Shringla said.
Shringla was replying to a question on the issue at a media briefing on the Modi-Deuba talks.
“I think there was a sense that we should address it through discussion and dialogue,” he added.
The foreign secretary cited the resolution of maritime and land boundary issues between India and Bangladesh to emphasise that the matter with Nepal will also be sorted out amicably.
“You have seen that we have sorted out the land as well as maritime boundary issue with Bangladesh and it was sorted out in a very amicable manner. We had a mechanism for it,” he said.
Shringla said, similarly, India has several mechanisms with Nepal to discuss issues involving both sides.
“The two sides had a brief discussion and generally felt that in order to start addressing the issue, we need to have dialogue and discussion in a responsible manner and that’s something we will engage in,” he said.
“And we have no doubts that between the two close and friendly countries, we will find a way,” he said.
The row started after Defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand in May 2020.
Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory. Days later, it came out with a new political map of the country that featured Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh.
Shringla visited Nepal in November 2020 with an aim to reset the ties. Shringla’s trip was followed by a visit to India by then Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.
Nepal shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.