Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba in Lumbini, Nepal on May 16 will have a comprehensive agenda to further expand cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Friday.
Asked whether the boundary dispute between the two sides will figure in the talks, he said India has always maintained that the existing bilateral mechanisms are the best way forward to deliberate on the issues, adding they should be discussed in a “responsible manner” without their “politicisation”.
Modi is paying a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. It will be the Prime Minister’s fifth visit to Nepal since 2014.
In Lumbini, the Prime Minister will visit the Mayadevi temple and deliver an address at a Buddha Jayanti event organised by the Lumbini Development Trust. Modi and Deuba, who visited India last month, will hold extensive talks.
“The fact that a return visit is taking place in such a close succession is a reflection of the closeness of our high-level exchanges as well as of the upward trajectory in our mutually beneficial partnership,” Kwatra said.
The Foreign Secretary said Modi and Deuba will build on their productive conversation in Delhi last month with a view to further expand the shared understanding and cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower development and connectivity. He said the visit will “reaffirm” India’s commitment toward ties with Nepal and demonstrate the priority that New Delhi attaches to the neighbourhood.
“The conversation between the two leaders will have a comprehensive agenda and it covers the entire scope of discussion,” Kwatra said. He said the entire “scope and landscape” of the India-Nepal partnership is “very wide and extensive”.
“The conversations between the two leaders will pick up from where they left off last month when Prime Minister Deuba visited here and would no doubt cover all elements of our bilateral engagement whether it is development partnership, whether it is assessment and stock-taking of how connectivity projects are doing, what more can be done to connect the two societies of south Asia and also aspects related to hydropower cooperation, trade and investment,” Kwatra said.
Asked about the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), he said it is yet to be submitted. “The government will take it into consideration once it is submitted.”
The EPG was constituted to look into various aspects of India-Nepal ties, including to look at the 1950 friendship treaty between the two countries. On the boundary dispute, Kwatra said there are established bilateral mechanisms to address such issues.
“In so far as the border discussions between the two countries are concerned, as you all know, there are established bilateral mechanisms which exist between them,” he said.
“We have always maintained that they are the best way forward in discussing those issues, discussing in a responsible manner without really politicisation of those issues. That is subject which will essentially be in the score of those established bilateral mechanisms,” he added.