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

NEW DELHI
24 Aug 2017

Nepal today assured India that 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 security and defence forces of the two countries in order to avoid 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 and connected to each other," Modi said at a joint press briefing after the talks. Deuba gave an assurance 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 the Constitution, he expressed confidence that a Constitution "encompassing" the views of the people from all sections and ethnicities would be a reality. 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 Madhesis 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. 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. 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, he added, had also agreed on development of the Ramayana and Buddhist tourism circuits through better connectivity . Flood management and irrigation projects was a point of focus in the talks between the two countries.  Modi stressed on greater coordination and consultation between the agencies of India and Nepal on flood management and said the two sides must work towards a long term solution, taking into consideration each others interests.  While he expressed the hope that the Detailed Project Report for the Pancheshwar project on the Uttarkhand border of the Indian side would be finalised soon, Deuba stressed that it would help in flood control and crop irrigation. Modi said Deuba had informed him that the land acquisition issues for Arun III irrigation project had been addressed and the Nepalese prime minister had invited him for the ground-breaking ceremony.(PTI)