Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has said that Nepal has unique and close relations with India and he was confident that the Kalapani issue between the two neighbours will be resolved through talks.
“We have always said that the only way to resolve this issue is by negotiating in good faith. Without impulse or unnecessary excitement, and without prejudice, Nepal wants to resolve the border issues via dialogues, Gyawali told Republica, an English daily, during an interview.
“We are confident that this issue will be resolved via bilateral talks,” he added. He, however, did not mention about Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh – the two areas Nepal claimed belonged to it.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-KM-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.
The Nepal government on Wednesday released a revised political and administrative map showing Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani under its territory, angering India which bluntly asked Kathmandu not to resort to any “artificial enlargement” of its territorial claim and refrain from such “unjustified cartographic assertion”.
“This unilateral act is not based on historical facts and evidence. It is contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue. Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
Srivastava also asked Nepal to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, hoping that the Nepalese leadership will create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues.
In his interview to the Nepalese daily, Gyawali said this border dispute is not new. “This is history’s unresolved, pending and outstanding issue that we inherited. This is a baggage, and the sooner we resolve this, the quicker we can set our sights to the future,” he said.
“Nepal wants to have a relationship based on trust and free of ups and downs, predictable friendly relations. We know that we do not have an alternative to this. So, all our efforts have been to conclude the history’s baggage. We are confident that the only way to resolve the issue is via diplomatic talks and negotiations,” he added.
Responding to a question, he said, “We have been trying to hold talks in the matter. However, formal talks and conversations have not taken place yet.”
“We are hopeful that our formal and informal channels of communication will yield something positive,” he added.
Gyawali expressed the view that “the Indian side is also deeply concerned and feels the responsibility to address the issue.”
To another question, he said, “when India and China decided to open that road in 2015, we objected to the decision. We had objected to that bilateral agreement to use the Nepali soil without our consent.”
“When India published its new political map on November 2, 2019 showing Nepali land on its map we protested the decision, we requested for talks multiple times. We even sent two sets of possible dates for talks to New Delhi, but there was no response,” Gyawali said.
“We then sent a diplomatic note to both India and China in 2015 and to India in 2019, protesting their decisions to use Nepali soil without our consent,” the minister said.
To a question, he said, “We have two neighbours, and we cannot and will not close doors to one to open to another. This has been our established position since the ages. For us, both the neighbours are of equal importance.”
Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane has said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to the road at the behest of “someone else”, in an apparent reference to a possible role by China on the matter.
“I totally reject the idea of dragging other countries in border disputes between Nepal and India. We had disputes with China on Lipu Lekh, and the issue is still pending,” Gyawali said.
“This is a bilateral issue, and Nepal and India should resolve this,” he said. But at some point, the three countries will have to sit for talks, he added.
“After we settle the Nepal-India border issue, then we have to work on finalizing the tri-junction point. But that comes at a later date,” he said.
“We have told them to accept, and respect the historical facts. The only treaty to determine Nepal-India border is the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli. And the three supplementary treaties of 1860 and 1875 and a small change in 1920 during the construction of Sharada Barrage where we swapped lands. But none of these treaties change the fact that Nepal’s western border is the Kali river.
“First there was no dispute over the origin of the Kali river, which actually originates from Limpiyadhura. Any other interpretation of the origin of the river is the manipulation of facts, and it does not have any legal justification,” Gyawali said.
“We are confident that India will accept the historical facts. I want to tell our Indian friends that this is a baggage left by history. And so I request them to be not so possessive about this,” he added.