India, Nepal ink eight pacts, call for closer security and defence ties

Modi emphasised on cooperation with Nepal in economic relations, energy, water resources and connectivity projects.

Published: 24th August 2017 03:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2017 10:01 PM   |  A+A-

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba inaugurate an India-Nepal power transmission line after talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Thursday. | PTI


NEW DELHI: Nepal today assured India it would not allow any activity against its "friendly neighbour", as the two sides signed eight pacts, including on cooperation in countering drug trafficking and post-earthquake reconstruction in the Himalayan nation.

After comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid emphasis on closer cooperation between the two countries' security and defence forces to prevent the misuse of the open border between India and Nepal.

"Defence ties and assistance in security is an important aspect of our partnership. Our defence interests are also dependent on and connected to each other," Modi said at a joint press briefing after the talks.

Deuba assured India of "every support, every help and cooperation".

"As you (Modi) mentioned that Nepal has an open border... I would like to assure you that Nepal will never allow any activity against friendly neighbour India and there will be every support, every help and cooperation from our side," Deuba said.

Acknowledging that there were "issues" in the implementation of Nepal's Constitution, he expressed confidence that it would encompass views of the people from all sections and ethnicities.

Modi, too, exuded confidence that Nepal would take into consideration the aspirations of all its citizens during the implementation of the Constitution.

On August 21, the Nepalese parliament failed to endorse the much-awaited Constitution amendment bill to address the issues of the Madhesi people as the ruling coalition could not garner the two-thirds majority required for its passage.

Deuba said both sides also exchanged views on regional and sub-regional cooperation using BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative) and create a "win-win" situation in various areas.

Modi hoped the consensus on various issues during the talks between the two sides would add "new energy" to bilateral relations.

The Nepalese prime minister said regular engagement at the highest political level would greatly contribute to sustaining and cementing trust between the two countries and his current visit was an effort towards it.

Holding that Nepal was "not only a neighbour, but also a good friend of India", Deuba said its relation with India stood on a solid foundation.

"On the one hand, it is the rich civilisation, sociocultural and economic linkages, and, on the other hand, it is commitment by the two countries to a time-tested principle of sovereign equality, peaceful co-existence and respect for each other's sensitivity and aspirations," Deuba said.

He further stated he appreciated Prime Minister Modi's 'Neighbourhood First Policy' and the approach of Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikas. "We are eager to see that this policy is translated into concrete and development activities," he said.

The two sides, Deuba said, expressed satisfaction on the working of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations (EPG-NIR).

He added both the countries were hopeful the EPG would complete the work within the defined time frame and submit practical recommendation, including a review of past treaties.

The EPG-NIR, a joint mechanism of Nepal and India, was set up in February last year to give necessary suggestions to update all existing bilateral treaties and agreements.

The two leaders jointly inaugurated the Kataiya-Kusaha and Raxaul-Parwanipur cross border power transmission lines.

Modi said this would give an additional 100 MW of power to Nepal, apart from the existing 350 MW.

The two sides, Modi added, also agreed on development of the Ramayana and Buddhist tourism circuits through better connectivity.

Modi emphasised on cooperation with Nepal in economic relations, energy, water resources and connectivity projects.

The talks also focused on flood management and irrigation projects.

Modi stressed the need for greater coordination and consultation between the agencies of India and Nepal on flood management and said the two sides had to work towards a long term solution, taking into consideration each other's interests.

He also reiterated India's help in every possible way to flood-hit Nepal and said New Delhi was "committed" to partnering in Nepal's development.

Deuba expressed the hope the Detailed Project Report for the Pancheshwar project on the Uttarkhand border would be finalised soon, stressing that it would help in flood control and crop irrigation.

Modi said Deuba had informed him that land acquisition issues for Arun III irrigation project on the Arun river had been addressed and the Nepalese prime minister had invited him for the groundbreaking ceremony.

"Hydropower is a priority and has huge potential of cooperation. Both government would facilitate the early start of work on the two hydro-power projects," Deuba said.

The Nepalese prime minister also expressed satisfaction on an MoU related to the construction of a wider Mechi bridge.

"We have likewise agreed to expedite work on the bridge on river Mahakali, integrated check posts and other developmental projects," Deuba added.

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