New Delhi: In an attempt to go past the bitterness of recent incidents and build a “forward-looking relationship”, visiting Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on Saturday and decided on new “game-changer” initiatives including a cross-border electric rail link between Kathmandu and Raxaul in Bihar, connecting Nepal to the Indian railway system, and a separate river transport system that could give Nepal a route all the way to the sea.
Though Mr Oli’s visit is taking place against the backdrop of increasing Chinese influence in Nepal, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed that the countries did not discuss China or OBOR during bilateral talks.
Mr Gokhale said that the two PMs discussed Saarc’s future but the issue of demonetisation (by India in 2016 and its effects on Nepalese nationals) did not come up.
Mr Oli, who is widely seen as pro-China in his approach and policies, said that Nepal wants to “erect a strong edifice of trust-based relations between two close neighbours (India and Nepal)”. He added that Nepal wants to create a “model relationship” with India based on “principles of equality, justice, mutual respect”.
“We need support of our friends. Relation among neighbours is different from other relations. This is based on mutual respect,” he said.
Reciprocating the goodwill, PM Modi said, “Through our efforts, Nepal will get extra connectivity to the ocean... It will get directly connected to the sea... Nepal will be not only land-linked but also water-linked PM Oli’s vision of ‘prosperous Nepal and developed Nepal’ is compatible to sabka sath, sabka vikas.”
PM Modi added, “We both will prevent misuse of our open borders with each other. We will advance our joint security interests.”
In a veiled reference to the Madhesis, people mostlu of Indian origin residing in the Nepalese plains that border Bihar, Mr Modi expressed hope that Kathmandu will “take all sections along” in Nepal’s march to progress. The Madhesis have often complained of being left out of the power apparatus by the Nepalese hill people and this had strained ties between the two countries in 2015-16. Mr Oli said he wants “to see an early realisation of the open market provision of the bilateral power trade agreement”....