Kathmandu, December 16
Apparently, regular bilateral meetings between Nepal and India have gained momentum of late with various departmental meetings happening online amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Such meetings were halted since the early months of this year citing the pandemic. But, for many, the lack of progress was attributed to the border dispute between the two countries that appeared after India’s publication of the new political map in November 2019 and Nepal’s encounter with the similar act in May.
Therefore, the resumption of meetings should have been considered positively. However, officials involved in the talks say India is still reluctant to progress on various issues of bilateral concerns thanks to the dispute.
In a recent meeting between energy secretaries of the two countries, for example, Indian Power Secretary Sanjeev Nandan Sahai did not respond to Nepal’s Energy Secretary Dinesh Ghimire’s call for holding a trilateral meeting, also involving Bangladesh, for power trade. Sahai said the Ministry of External Affairs should deal with the issue.
“The Indians exhibited the impact of the border dispute in their body language,” an official who attended the meeting says.
Likewise, Nepali officials involved in a commerce secretary-level meeting have considered India’s dissatisfaction with high customs on Indian products in Nepal as a sign of its unwillingness to implement previous deals made to help Nepal reduce its trade deficit.