India gears up to improve bilateral ties with Nepal as China too eyes the strategic neighbour
Bilateral ties: India is not ready to let Nepal go off, its too important for that, especially when China too is cozying up with the common neighbour. Nepal has recently been quite adventurous with its increasing closeness with Beijing, but Indian government has decided not to let that take away the close ally.
India is looking enthusiastic to restart its economic projects in Nepal and also improve bilateral ties with the country. But India is not getting soft on its stand that Nepal’s territorial claims are completely baseless and not supported by any evidence. Starting Thursday India is starting a series of diplomatic visits to Nepal that will further strengthen economic and trade relations. Foreign Secretary Harish Shringla said on arriving in Kathmandu, “I wanted to come here earlier also but couldn’t do so because of Covid-19. We have a very strong relationship with Nepal and our endeavour will be to see how we can take it forward.”
Shringla during his visit is planning to engage for substantiative cooperation in future on economic front and also coping with Covid-19 pandemic.
The timing of Shringla’s visit is of strategic importance as it is followed by China’s defence minister, Wei Fenghe’s visit to Kathmandu. Wei’s visit is timed as China is being accused of encroaching on Nepal’s territorial land, garnering lot of criticism on international stage.
India however remains skeptical of growing defence ties between Kathmandu and Beijing. The 2017 joint military exercise of China and Nepal had raised many eyebrows, which was aimed at increasing military cooperation.
In the past India has enjoyed strong defence relations with Nepal with Indian army recruiting in large number across the border. Currently, there are around 32,000 Nepal Gurkha soldiers that are recruited and serving in the Indian Army. The ongoing deadlock with Nepal was decided to amend by army chief M.M. Naravane earlier this month. The visit by chief helped resolve earlier spat led by his comment that Nepal’s protest over India’s connecting road to Lipulekh Pass was “at someone else’s behest”. Visit by Shringla is expected to amend the relations further and pave way for more cooperative avenues between the nations.