Amid the LAC standoff with China and row over Lipulekh, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane will visit Nepal next month. Incidentally, this visit was supposed to take place in February. However, it got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
“The Chief of Army Staff will travel to Nepal early next month. The dates of his visit are being finalized,” an Army official said in the media.
According to a press communique by the Government of Nepal Naravane will visit Nepal in November. “Her excellency Mrs. Vidya Devi Bhandari will confer the honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army to General Naravane in an investiture ceremony during his visit,” the statement further said.
As per the protocol, Naravane, during his visit will hold talks with Nepalese Army Chief General Purna Chandra Thapa and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel and deliberate upon means to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries.
“Ways to further deepen defense cooperation between the two countries will be explored during the Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Kathmandu,” a senior official briefed the media.
In recent times, ties between India and Nepal have strained after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
This drove Nepal to release a new map claiming parts of the Indian Territory in the area as its own. India strongly objected to Nepal’s decision to ‘unilaterally’ alter boundaries between the two countries. Despite India’s objection, however, the Nepalese Parliament approved the new map.
This visit is seen as a measure to smoothen the relationship between the countries.
Commenting on the matter, Naravane blamed Nepal for acting at the ‘behest’ of China, with which India has been locked in a bitter standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).