New Delhi: India on Tuesday downplayed Nepal signing a landmark transit treaty with China along with nine other agreements, asserting that no country can replicate the ‘special and privileged’ relationship the Himalayan nation has with it.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked about the pacts, said relations between India and Nepal have their ‘natural logic’ and that New Delhi was not in the business of ‘comparison’.
"It (Nepal) is a landlocked country. Nepal is free to explore any option it wants but no country can replicate the kind of relations Nepal has with India which is based on the logic of geography, very close people-to-people ties," he said.
Nepal and China yesterday signed 10 agreements including a landmark transit treaty to end the land-locked country's total dependence on India while Beijing agreed to extend the strategic Tibet rail link to Nepal to boost connectivity.
Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is in Beijing where he held talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other senior Chinese leaders.
"No other country can replicate the special and privileged relationship Nepal has with India... Our age-old ties with Nepal is unique and special characterised by open border, shared history, geography, close people-to-people contact, mutual security and close economic relationship," Swarup said.
Oli had visited India last month during which he had said Nepal does not play India or China "card" and there is "no question" of favouring one over the other as it is not a viable "policy option".
He had also said that "misunderstandings" between India and Nepal "do not" persist anymore, calling it the "most important" outcome of his first visit here.
Giving details of economic engagement Nepal has with India, he said "We have at present 26 land customs stations with Nepal of which 10 can handle commercial cargo trucks."
He said two more trading points are under construction and construction of two more will be undertaken in next phase.
The spokesperson also referred to the railway connectivity projects as well as road development projects India is undertaking in Nepal's Terai region.
The MEA spokesperson said two-third of Nepal's global trade involves India and millions of Nepalese people live and work in India while hundreds of thousands criss cross the open border between the two countries daily.