The visit that didn’t break the ice

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Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali’s visit was expected to break the ice with India as relation between Nepal and India have hit low due to territorial disputes. But it didn’t happen.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Gyawali visited India on Thursday to participate in the India-Nepal Joint Commission meeting. He co-chaired the meeting along with Jaishankar on Friday.

Many were looking forward to the talks on border disputes between the two neighbors which hasn’t been resolved yet. But India had hinted that the border talks was unlikely this time.

 The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Our position on the boundary issue is well known. Let me say that the JCM and boundary talks are separate mechanisms.”

Foreign Minister Gyawali also didn’t get a chance to meet the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This also indicates that India didn’t give much importance to this visit. When Indian Army Chief MM Naravane, Research and Analysis wing chief Samantha Goel and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardan Shinghla had visited Nepal, they got a chance to visit Nepal’s Prime Minister and even the President. But Nepal’s foreign minister didn’t get a chance to meet Indian Prime Minister. What Nepal’s foreign minister got was an assurance from India that it would be sending the coronavirus vaccine starting from this month. A meeting with the Indian Prime  Minister Narendra Modi would have been more concrete and could have break an ice on political stalemate.

The relation between India and Nepal began to hit low when India published a new map including Kalapani, a contested region within its territories.

Nepal published a new, authoritative political map showing the areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as part of its territory, toughening its stance on a recently flared up territorial dispute with India.

The Nepali government’s move to unveil a new political map came after India published its map more than six months ago, including the Lipulekh and Kalapani areas in its claimed territory. The tensions between the two neighbors deepened further when India inaugurated a road linking Dharchula in Uttarakhand state to Lipulekh, as part of the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage route.

Nepal’s parliament  endorsed a constitutional amendment bill tabled by the government to revise its political map to include the areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as part of its territory.

The passage of the Bill marks a historic move for Nepal and a tough blow for India, which is seen as acting as a regional bully or ‘big brother’ in Nepal. This border issue hasn’t been solved yet.

As the Foreign Ministry Gyawali arrived in India at a crucial time where there is a political crisis in Nepal, chances were high that the tension between Nepal and India on border issues would be solved.  

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