NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Nepalese parliament’s weekend vote on a new map that shows several sections of Indian territory as part of Nepal, India on Thursday sought to underline its longstanding friendly ties with the Himalayan country.The new map was made public last month and has raised tensions between the neighbours.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said India deeply valued “our civilizational, cultural and friendly relations with Nepal."
“Our multifaceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in recent years. This is because of the government of India’s enhanced focus on humanitarian, development and connectivity related projects," he told reporters.
In the times of the covid-19 pandemic, India has sent across consignments of the anti-malarial hydroxylchloroquine and the anti-pyretic paracetamol to Kathmandu, Srivastava said. India had also sent testing kits and other medical supplies. “India has also helped repatriation of Nepalese nationals on humanitarian grounds" who were stuck in countries due to the covid-19 pandemic, he added.
Srivastava’s comments were in response to questions on whether India had engaged Nepal over the issue of its new map that has caused frictions in the ties between the two countries.
Nepal published the revised map in May showing the section of land on its northwest tip as its territory, a move rejected by India, which controls the area and says the land belongs to it. The Kathmandu government has tabled the new map in parliament, seeking to amend the constitution and remove the old version.
“A house meeting has been scheduled for Saturday when the amendment is expected to be debated and put to vote," parliamentary official Dashrath Dhamala told Reuters.
Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had earlier said he has sought talks with India to seek to resolve the dispute over the small stretch of land, which includes the areas of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani. While India and Nepal had been showing the areas of Lipulekh and Kalapani as parts of their respective territories, Kathmandu this time added a third area – ie Limpiyadhura to its territory. According to people familiar with the matter, this has previously been shown as part of India in Nepalese maps too.
“We have told (them) that we want to resolve this through diplomatic talks ... And the solution is that our land should be returned to us," Oli said in parliament on Wednesday, according to the Reuters report.
On Thursday, Srivastava did not refer to Oli’s statement and also did not give any indication of plans by New Delhi to schedule any talks with Kathmandu on the subject.
Last month, India had rejected Nepal’s map calling it a “unilateral act" that was not based on historical facts or evidence.