KATHMANDU, May 14: Prime Minister K P Oli has said that the recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal has taken Nepal-India relations to a new height.
Briefing the parliament on Sunday about the agreements reached during Modi’s visit, Oli informed that the Indian side had laid emphasis on the implementation of various agreements reached with Nepal in the past. Oli told the parliament that concrete progress will be made in the implementation of the long-stalled agreements by September.
Oli said that a report of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) that is expected to be finalized by July will also contribute toward identifying the ‘irritant’ factors that subsist in the bilateral relations and ways to overcome them. “This visit has been a starting point to take the bilateral relations forward on the basis of equality,” he said.
Referring indirectly to the criticisms from a section of people that his government had surrendered to India despite some bitter experiences in the recent past, Prime Minister Oli argued that the relations between Nepal and India must be improved. “The relations between the two countries must be improved. We should not tolerate any discrimination. It is not good to live in the past. We should be able to establish new relations,” he said.
Oli also said that in all discussions with the Indian side he as prime minister of the country had kept national interests in his heart and mind. “I in my capacity as the prime minister won’t allow any kind of work that undermines the country’s dignity. I was born and raised in this country. I won’t work in the interest of others,” he further said.
In his nearly hour-long address to the parliament, Prime Minister Oli listed various agreements reached between the two side and the issues, which were raised but not fully agreed upon during the bilateral meetings.
He said Nepal and India reached various nine agreements during Modi’s visit. The agreements include ensuring tangible progress in the implementation of various long-stalled agreements by the third week of September, identifying areas of cooperation in agriculture through a meeting of the agriculture ministers of the two countries, expediting survey work of Kathmandu-Raxaul railway line, and conducting survey of inland waterways between Nepal and India.
Oli said Nepal and India have agreed to hold the Joint Commission meeting to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations and develop a work plan of development model. The prime minister said India has positively responded to Nepal’s request for additional air entry routes, narrowing down the ever-ballooning trade deficit and addressing Nepal’s concerns of inundation due to the constriction of road and other infrastructures by India near the border.
Among other things, India has agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the power sector in line with the Power Trade Agreement (PTA) reached earlier between the two countries.
Oli said that Nepal raised a number of other issues with India and they remain yet to be finalized. Agreement has yet to be reached on the construction of a 1300-meter link road in Tanakpur, a 6.8 kilometer four-lane road on the Indian side of border to connect Nepal’s Mahendranagar with the Indian expressway, establishment of Energy Bank, and construction of Integrated Check Posts in Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj, according to the prime minister.
Prime Minister Oli informed the parliament that Nepal also asked for access to additional sea ports, permits to LGP gas bullets owned by Nepali entrepreneurs, exchanging demonetized Indian currency notes held in Nepal, and similar facilities to Nepali students pursuing medical education in Indian colleges like Indian students are provided at Nepali medical colleges.
Will visit China soon
Oli informed the parliament that he is intending to visit China soon.
Arguing that the relations with India had improved, he said he is planning to visit China soon to further strengthen the relations between Nepal and China.
The prime minister, however, did not pronounce the date of his China visit. Oli had wanted to go to China immediately after his visit to New Delhi but the visit was deferred in view of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Nepal, according to senior government officials.