Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali met with the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday to co-chair the 6th Joint Commission between India and Nepal at Hyderabad House in Delhi. The joint commission played a significant role in strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries. The meeting was held subsequent to Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s high-level diplomatic visit to Kathmandu.
As per the reports of MEA several issues including the economy, trade, water resources, oil, and gas, political and security matters were discussed during the joint commission. Nepal also voiced its support for India’s permanent inclusion in the expanded UN Security Council to reflect variations in the power equilibrium. As the meet emphasized the need to enhance cross-border movement involving both goods and people, India announced that will be starting with the construction of a new ICP at Bhairahwa to facilitate the same.
While Gyawali states that Nepal has always maintained good relations with its neighbors, border markings have become the major bone of contention between India and Nepal since the KP Oli led government issued a new political map last year. The map had shown the Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura as a part of Nepal. However, these issues were not discussed in today’s meeting. Earlier MEA spokesperson had also denied the possibility of any such discourse, calling both JCM and border issues separate matters.
A significant issue that was raised during the commission was that of the Covid -19 vaccine. Nepal hailed India for their successful production of covid-19 vaccines while requesting early access to the same. This comes amid Nepal’s approval of the Covishield vaccine that is being manufactured in India.
Nepal who as per the sources is in need of 12 million doses is showing its preference towards Indian vaccines over China’s Sinovac for tackling the pandemic. While the Indian government has made it clear in the past that exports would only be considered after fulfillment of domestic needs, bordering countries will nevertheless be getting a priority over others when it comes to vaccine exports.
“We see our location as an opportunity, being benefitted by the economic growth of our neighbouring countries” stated Gyawali. He further stressed that while Nepal maintains good relations with its neighbours, its soil won’t be misused for illegitimate interests of bordering nations.