India sees itself as Nepal's foremost friend: Shringla

India sees itself as Nepal's foremost friend: Shringla

NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday that India sees itself as Nepal's "foremost friend and development partner" as he stressed the need for strong cooperative relations between the two neighbours.

Shringla is here on a two-day maiden visit to Nepal at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal, amid a strain in bilateral ties following a bitter border row.

Delivering a talk hosted by the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) in Kathmandu on Friday, Shringla said the relation between Nepal and India is "intricate" and they share civilisational heritage, culture and customs.

"India sees itself as Nepal's foremost friend and development partner," he said in his nearly 25-minute long lecture. "Our aspirations of 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishvash' and your goal of Samridh Nepal and Sukhi Nepal' are entirely compatible."

He said India's relationship with Nepal rests on four pillars - development cooperation, stronger connectivity, expanded infrastructure and economic projects. "We will work to Nepal's priority," he said.

Stating that Nepal is fundamental to India's neighbourhood first approach, he said that people-to-people linkages between the two countries are strong and we in government only compliment it.

'"India sees itself as Nepal's natural and instinctive responder," he said, citing an example of New Delhi's quick response after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015.

Shringla on Thursday met Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and held productive talks with his Nepalese counterpart on a wide range of issues, including the border problem. He also paid a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.

The two countries agreed to step up efforts to advance mutual cooperation.

Referring to his meetings with Nepal's top leadership, Shringla said, "Our countries are on the same page and share the same vision."

During his speech, Shringla also spoke in Nepali langauge.

The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand in May.

Days later, Nepal came out with a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura as its territories.

India reacted sharply, calling it a "unilateral act" and cautioning Nepal that such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

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