New Delhi: Ahead of official talks, India indicated that the boundary issue will not be discussed during the joint commission meeting chaired by Nepali and Indian foreign ministers.
Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to hold delegation-level discussion with his host, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar.
Last week, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Oli told the upper house of parliament that Gyawali would talk about the border dispute with his Indian counterpart during his trip.
However, the Indian side made it clear that there will be no substantive talks on the boundary dispute.
“Our position on the boundary issue is well known. Let me say that the joint commission meeting and boundary talks are separate mechanisms,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at a weekly online briefing on Thursday.
He added that the joint commission meeting was an “opportunity of reviewing at a high level the entire gamut of our bilateral partnership and providing political guidance to further enhance the special and unique ties that we enjoy”.
However, the Kathmandu Post reported that Gyawali reiterated that the boundary issue would be discussed at the joint commission meeting.
“I am not aware of India’s statement,” Gyawali told the Kathmandu Post. “But this [joint] commission is for discussing all bilateral issues, including the boundary.”
Relations between Nepal and its southern neighbour had gone off the rails since November 2019, when Kathmandu objected to a new political map released by India, claiming that it had incorporated the territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh. After India opened a road to Lipulekh, Nepal upped the ante by releasing a new political map and changing the constitution to embed the boundaries in its national emblem.
The Oli administration had called India for foreign secretary-level talks on the boundary dispute, but New Delhi had demurred.
However, the ties had improved in the last few months with Oli reaching out to India. The Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had also visited Kathmandu previous month.
The foreign minister’s visit takes place after the lower house of parliament was dissolved and general elections are scheduled to be held in April-May.