Charting a new course in bilateral relations, India and Nepal agreed Monday to “review, adjust and update” the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship to “better reflect the current realities” and expand ties in “a forward looking manner”.
This agreement between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sushil Koirala was announced as Modi wrapped up his two-day visit to Nepal, the first in 17 years by an Indian Prime Minister, and headed home.
To address Indian concerns over the use of Nepalese territory for terror activities directed at India, Modi and Koirala directed authorities on both sides to ensure that “the open border, a unique feature of Nepal-India bilateral relations, is not misused by unscrupulous elements posing security threats to either side”.
Both sides agreed to finalise the texts of an extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaty at an early date. Officials were directed to expedite the signing of a memorandum of understanding on a police academy.
A joint press statement issued at the end of Modi’s visit said the two Prime Ministers underlined the need to explore ways to enhance sub-regional cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade, transit, connectivity and hydropower.
They said “high level visits are vital for greater momentum to the close and cordial ties” between the two countries. Modi invited Koirala to India at an early date and the latter “appreciated the enhanced focus and priority” given by the new Indian government on relations with neighbouring countries. He referred to Modi’s invitation to the SAARC leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony in May, saying “this provided a unique opportunity for meaningful dialogue at the political level as well as for advancing regional cooperation under the framework of SAARC”.
The two Prime Ministers also underlined the need to resolve pending India-Nepal boundary issues once and for all. They welcomed the formation of the boundary working group (BWG) to undertake the construction, restoration and repair of boundary pillars, including clearance of ‘no-man’s land’ and other technical tasks.
They asked officials to expedite construction of cross-border railway at all five agreed border points and the four integrated check posts (ICPs) to facilitate trade and transit as well as Nepal’s export to and import from third countries.
On Nepal’s request, the Indian side agreed to take up the project for the construction of the Raxaul-Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline in the first phase and extend it to Kathmandu in the next phase to facilitate the transport of petroleum products.