By Shirish B Pradhan
PROBLEMS between Nepal and India would be resolved through dialogue, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said on Friday during a meeting with Indian Army chief General M M Naravane who paid a courtesy call on him. General Naravane’s three-day visit to Nepal was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following a bitter border row between the two countries.
The meeting between Gen. Naravane and Oli, who is also the Defence Minister of Nepal, took place at his official residence in Baluwatar, Nepal Army sources said. Prime Minister Oli said that “there has been good friendship between Nepal and India,” according to his Foreign Affairs Advisor Rajan Bhattarai. Oli expressed hope that the “problems between the two countries would be resolved through dialogue,” Bhattarai said in a tweet after the meeting. During the meeting, the Prime Minister mentioned the centuries-old special relations existing between Nepal and India, and the tradition of conferring Honorary General of Army on each other’s Army chiefs, Bhattarai said.
General Naravane’s engagements in Nepal included a visit to the headquarters of the Nepalese Army and attending a banquet hosted in his honour by chief of Nepalese Army Gen Purna Chandra Thapa. On Thursday, the two Army chiefs held talks and discussed ways to boost bilateral military cooperation. The Chief of Army Staff, who arrived here on Wednesday, earlier in the day enjoyed a mountain flight during which he had a brief stopover at Syangboche airport, the gateway to the world’s highest peak Mount Everest, they said.
General Naravane also addressed the middle-level student officers at the Army Command and Staff College at Shivapuri on the outskirts of Kathmandu. During the interaction, he shared his experience with the student officers, they said. Nepal had protested after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
India’s decision to send the Army chief to Nepal to reset the ties is seen as part of a larger exercise by New Delhi to rejuvenate relations with Myanmar, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan in the wake of greater efforts by China to expand its influence in the region. Last month, Gen. Naravane travelled to Myanmar along with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on an important visit during which India decided to supply an attack submarine to the Myanmarese Navy besides agreeing to further deepen military and defence ties.