KATHMANDU: The Government of Nepal has responded on the issue of India’s move of opening a link road to China via Nepal’s Lipulekh.
Issuing a press release, on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has expressed its concern over the inauguration of a link road by India to connect it with Mansarovar of Tibet in China via Lipulekh region, which falls on the Nepali territory.
“The Government of Nepal has learnt with regret about the ‘inauguration’ yesterday by India of ‘Link Road’ connecting to Lipulekh (Nepal), which passes through Nepali territory.”
MoFA stated, the Government of Nepal has consistently maintained that as per Sugauli Treaty (1816), all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) River, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh, belong to Nepal. This was reiterated by the Government of Nepal several times in the past and most recently through a diplomatic note addressed to the Government of India dated November 20, 2019, in response to the new political map issued by the latter.
This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the two countries, including at the level of the Prime Ministers, that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation, the Ministry said. It added that the government remains committed to seek diplomatic solution to boundary issues on the basis of the historical treaty, documents, facts and maps, in keeping with the spirit of close and friendly ties between the two countries.
In light of this development, the Government of Nepal calls upon the Government of India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal.
The Ministry recalls that the Government of Nepal had expressed its disagreement in 2015 through separate diplomatic notes addressed to the governments of both India and China when the two sides agreed to include Lipulekh Pass as a bilateral trade route without Nepal’s consent in the joint statement issued on May 15, 2015, during the official visit of the Prime Minister of India to China.
Moreover, the Government of Nepal reemphasizes that pending boundary issues between the two countries should be resolved through diplomatic means. With this in mind, the government has proposed twice the dates for holding the meeting of foreign secretaries of the two countries, as mandated by their leaders, for which the response from the Indian side is still awaited.
The two governments had constituted the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Nepal-India Relations with a mandate to recommend measures and institutional framework with a view to elevating the existing relations to a new height, the Ministry noted. The Group has concluded its task and prepared a consensus report.
The Government of Nepal is ready to receive the report and believes that it will be in the interest of the two countries to implement its recommendations which will also help address the outstanding issues left by history, thereby paving the way for ever stronger neighbourly relations.