India not to share Nepal issues with China

February 18th, 2009 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 18 (IANS) Before returning to New Delhi at the end of his two-day whirlwind visit to Nepal, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Wednesday ruled out sharing Nepal issues with the Himalayan republic’s other giant neighbour China.
Reacting to the proposal mooted by opposition leader and former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala that China and India should form a joint Nepal mechanism, the Indian envoy said the prime focus of his visit was to review New Delhi’s bilateral relationship with Kathmandu and discuss how to strengthen it further.

India wants a stable and peaceful Nepal so that the two countries can address major concerns like poverty alleviation. However, Nepal’s relations with third countries were outside the ambit of India-Nepal ties and New Delhi would not interfere in Nepal’s internal matters, Menon said.

The Indian official’s rejection of discussing Nepal issues with China comes after growing pressure by Beijing on the Maoist government of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to regulate the nearly 1,800 km open border between India and Nepal.

China regards the open border as a boost to anti-China protests in Kathmandu by Tibetan dissidents, helping them to cross over into Nepal from the south.

With the communist republic this year celebrating its 50th anniversary of the conquest of Tibet, China has been sending delegations to Nepal to pre-empt further protests.

Recently, Nepal’s Maoist Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam had said that Nepal wanted to discuss its contentious border issues with China and India together, especially regulating the border and resolving the dispute over the Kalapani area, a strategic area that touches Nepal, India and China.

This week, the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Qiu Guohong also told Nepal’s state media that India, Nepal and China could discuss sharing water resources from the Himalayan rivers that run through the three countries.

Menon said as a sovereign country, Nepal was free to have relations with any country it chose. However, the purpose of his visit was to discuss India-Nepal bilateral relations.

Holding up the instance of the Kosi river as a “good example” of the common concerns shared by India and Nepal, the official said work on fortifying and rebuilding the damaged structures on the Kosi embankment would be completed as per schedule.

While the supporting coffer dams had been built and the once-raging river forced back to its original course, Menon said that as a long-term measure to control the recurrent flooding caused by the river in monsoon, the two countries would have to ensure a way of ridding its heavy load of silt.

Menon said India was ready to review the contentious India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 and ready to sit for talks whenever Nepal wished.

About 98 percent work had been completed on updating the boundary between the two neighbours and the strip maps would be exchanged very soon, Menon said.

An updated extradition treaty would also be signed between the two governments very soon, he added.

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