India, Nepal re-charge ties, all eyes on Modi visit

Sushma_nepalIndia and Nepal have agreed on a clutch of steps to reinvigorate their ties that include reviewing the Treaty of Friendship to bring it in tune with contemporary realities, stepping up bilateral trade and scale up hydropower cooperation.

The meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission, co-chaired by India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, in Kathmandu on July 26 has been hailed as a success. The joint commission was meeting after a gap of 23 years and underscored the commitment of both sides to expand their partnership and closely work together for shared prosperity.

“It was a very successful trip and the results were more than my expectations,” said a beaming Swaraj before her departure to New Delhi on July 27.

The talks have paved the way for a much- awaited visit by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 3, the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in the last 17 years.

Restarting the moribund Joint Commission itself has been welcomed as a remarkable achievement. According to the 26-point joint press statement released on July 27, the joint commission has “reiterated the need for reviewing, adjusting and updating the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950, reflecting the current realities,” adding “it directed the Foreign Secretaries to make necessary recommendations. The treaty, considered the foundational stone for the relationship between India and Nepal, has often been cited as a source of dissatisfaction in Nepal.

Given Nepal’s concerns over the growing trade deficit, India agreed to further relax the rules of origin requirements and simplify and streamline transit and customs related procedures, eliminate technical barriers to trade and and lift quantitative restrictions on the export of Nepalese products to India.

While no agreement was reached on the Power Trade Agreement between India and Nepal, the two sides emphasised the importance of harnessing vast hydropower potential of Nepal for mutual benefits. They have directed officials to finalize the text of a Power Trade Agreement at the earliest.

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