New Delhi: Nepal on Friday congratulated India on the "remarkable success" in production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and requested for early provision of vaccines to Nepal. This was conveyed by the Nepali delegation led by the visiting Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at the sixth meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission. The meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and his Nepal
The Nepal government approved the use of Covid19 vaccines designed by India. "Conditional permission has been granted for emergency use authorization of COVISHIELD vaccine against COVID19 in Nepal," a statement by the country's Department of Drug Administration said.
The Joint Commission, according to an MEA release, "comprehensively reviewed all aspects" of multifaceted cooperation between the two countries and explored ways to further strengthen the traditionally close and friendly ties.
The two delegations included Foreign Secretary of India, Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal and other senior officials from both sides.
"Both sides discussed several areas of cooperation including in the areas of connectivity, economy and trade, power, oil and gas, water resources, political and security issues, border management, development partnership, tourism, culture, education and capacity building," the release said. Noting the milestone achieved by the Motihari-Amlekhganj petroleum products pipeline, the two sides discussed the expansion of the pipeline to Chitwan and the establishment of a new pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepal.
Both sides welcomed the completion of the work on the first passenger railway line between India and Nepal from Jaynagar to Kurtha via Janakpur, and noted that operating procedures for commencement of train services were being finalized. Other cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge
railway line, were also discussed, the release said.
The bilateral ties between neighbours had taken a beating after Nepal’s parliament endorsed a new map in May 2020 incorporating three areas – Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura – part of Uttarakhand India. However, the telephonic conversation between the prime ministers Narendra Modi and KP Sharma Oli on Aug 15 had paved the way for normalising ties.
In October, Nepal Prime Minister Oli sprang a surprise. In his customary Vijaya Dashami greetings to citizens, Oli indicated a softer line and used an 'old map of Nepal' to greet everyone in the festive season. The old map does not show the region of Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.
Importantly, Oli's Vijaya Dashami greetings come within days of his meeting with Indian external intelligence agency RAW chief Samant Kumar Goel. Director of the Indian intelligence agency R&AW, Goel, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also visited Nepal last year and tried to bridge the gap. BJP’s foreign cell chair Vijay Chauthaiwale also went to Kathmandu in December 2020. India in effect is focussing on Prime Minister Modi’s “neighbourhood first policy” and trying to regain its hold in the Himalayan nation at a time when China has made deeper inroads.