The sixth meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission today reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations that included the important areas of Covid-19 vaccine, boundary and border management, connectivity and economic cooperation, trade and transit, power and water resources, and culture and education, among others, according to a press note issued by the Foreign Ministry.
Held in New Delhi today and co-chaired by foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar – as leaders of the respective delegations – the meeting of the Joint Commission also appreciated the close coordination between the two sides in facing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the press note reads, adding that the Nepali side thanked the Government of India for its assistance of essential medicines and medical equipment. “On Nepal’s request for the Government of India’s support in availing Covid-19 vaccines, the Indian side assured that the requirements of Nepal would be in priority consideration after the roll-out of vaccines.”
The meeting discussed the boundary matter and expressed the commitment to early completion of the boundary works in the remaining segments. “It also discussed the review of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950, submission of the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), and air entry routes,” the press note adds.
The two ministers expressed satisfaction over the progress achieved in increasing cross-border infrastructure and connectivity, strengthening of development partnership and expeditious implementation of major ongoing projects and initiatives, including the first cross-border petroleum products pipeline, Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at major border crossing points, railway links, power transmission lines, upgradation of roads and motorable bridges. The meeting also agreed to further speed up the implementation of the ongoing and planned bilateral projects such as the new Integrated Check Posts (ICP), Inland Container Depot (ICD), including at Dodhara-Chadani, remaining cross border railways, roads, and transmission lines, among others, the press note adds.
The Joint Commission deliberated on the progress in the discussions held between the two sides to review the bilateral treaties on trade, transit and rail services. “Both sides agreed for an early conclusion of the review of Treaty of Trade, Treaty of Transit and the amendments to Rail Services Agreement (RSA) with a view to further strengthen cooperation in these fields. They also discussed on progress in operationalisation of connectivity through inland waterways.
The meeting agreed to expedite the work for 400 Kv Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line, it reads, adding that reiterating the importance of Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project and taking note of the positive discussion at the recent bilateral meeting of the secretary-level delegations held in New Delhi, the Joint Commission agreed for early finalisation of the project DPR. “The meeting also deliberated on the inundation problems facing people living in border areas especially due to non-tagging of embankments, interlinking of drains, and inadequate drainage provision.”
The Nepal-India Joint Commission was established in 1987 with a view to review and further strengthen all aspects of bilateral relations.
The Nepali delegation to the meeting included Nepali ambassador Nilamber Acharya, foreign secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, health secretary Laxman Aryal and the officials of various ministries, departments and the Nepali embassy. Likewise, Indian external affairs minister Jaishanker was accompanied by Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and India’s ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra.
Meanwhile, foreign minister Gyawali today gave a talk at the Indian Council of World Affairs (Sapru House) on ‘Nepal-India Relations’ and interacted with the distinguished audience comprising of former ambassadors, academics, think-tank analysts and media persons.
The foreign minister reached New Delhi yesterday to participate in the meeting as its co-chair, though back home there is a hearing going at the Supreme Count on either the incumbent government led by KP Sharma Oli is caretaker or not as the prime minister dissolved the House of Representatives on December 20 and declared a mid-term poll, instead of facing no confidence motion in the House. Oli’s House dissolution move has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Before today’s Joint Commission meeting, Gyawali and Jaishankar held a one-on-one bilateral talk, sources at the Indian capital said, adding that the minister is also scheduled to hold high-level talks with the Indian authorities.