NEW DELHI: Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli today said his country 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".
"Misunderstandings" between India and Nepal "do not" persist anymore, Oli said, terming it as the "most important" outcome of his first visit to India after assuming office in last October. He made the remarks while delivering the 21st Sapru House Lecture of the Indian Council of World Affairs here which was presided over by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and attended by top members of the visiting Nepalese delegation.
"The main mission of my coming to India was to clear misunderstanding and apprehensions that surfaced in the past few months following the promulgation of the Constitution. In my meetings with President, Vice President, Prime Minister and all other leaders I tried to clarify what we did in the past few months, what our intentions were and how we want to advance as a nation.
"Having exchanged views with them I am convinced that whatever misunderstanding was there does not persist anymore. This in my view is the most important outcome of my visit," Oli said. Oli, who is the first Prime Minister under the newly adopted Constitution of Nepal, said "intermittent" issues between two countries and governments "should not lead us" to actions that are unwarranted and impact people's daily lives adversely.
On resolving the issues flagged by the Madhesi community, Swaraj "reiterated" her gratitude to Oli for having put in place a political mechanism to address their concerns. "This is the power of democracy that we resolve our issues through political dialogue."
Touching upon the country's relations with its northern neighbor China, Oli said there was no "basis" to the perception that Nepal "uses this or that card". "There is no question about aligning with the one or the other. We cannot do it and it is not a viable policy option either. As neighbors we continue to have good relations with both and one is not comparable to the other," he said.
When essential supplies from India were hit by the Madhesi agitation, Nepal was reportedly exploring option of getting petroleum products and other supplies from China.
In her speech, Swaraj praised the Nepalese political leadership for showing "maturity" and bringing the Constitution to life despite adverse circumstances following the devastating earthquake that ravaged parts of the Himalayan country and led to massive loss of life and property. Oli said Nepal remains "firm" in its commitment to not allow it soil for any hostile activity directed towards India. "We respect the security, sensitivity of our neighbours," he said. "Occasional differences may appear in any society. It is also true between us but we must address them in a way that does not undermine the foundations of our relations.
"We must ensure that open border are not misused by unscrupulous elements. We also need to maintain the sanctity of no man's land so that the true spirit of open border remains alive," Oli said. Elaborating on the country's equations with India and China, Oli said Nepal sees opportunity for a productive partnership of development in the gradual "coming closer" of its big neighbors.
"India is our closest and the most important partner in development and prosperity. Our relations are extensive, deep and multidimensional. There are very few countries in the world whose past and future are so closely intertwined," he said. Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Kamal Thapa, in his brief address, said that the Constitution, in its present form, has adequate flexibility and competence to address the concerns of the Madhesi community.
He said anyone who believes in the "supremacy" of people, will not "take up arms" over their concerns relating to the Constitution. It is natural for us to look forward to inspiration and some patting on the back, he said.