Nepal forms EPG to look into ties with India

Kathmandu, Jan 13 (IANS) The government has formed an Eminent Persons Group mandated to look into Nepal-India ties in totality and reviewing all bilateral treaties with India ahead of the visit of Prime Minister K.P. Oli to India in February.

The concept of forming EPG came up after Nepal and India agreed to revamp their bilateral ties in view of the changed context and after several discussions at political and senior government level in the past, particularly after the visit of then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to New Delhi in 2008.

A Cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided to form such a panel whose members are former diplomat Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, former top bureaucrat Surya Nath Uphadhay, CPN-UML parliamentarian Rajan Bhattarai and former UN assistant secretary general Kul Chandra Gautam.

India has already communicated to the Nepali side about having already formed such a panel.

The Nepal government has already sanctioned $1 million to run the EPG secretariat as per the understanding with India during the third Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting in July 25-27, 2014, in Kathmandu.

During the meeting, Nepal and India had agreed to form the EGP with four members each from Nepal and India and set up secretariats in respective countries.

According to the understanding, each EPG will have an eminent parliamentarian, a lawyer, an economist and a civil society leader.

The mandate of the panel is to hold interactions with various stakeholders and make recommendations to the respective foreign secretaries of Nepal and India after looking into bilateral relations in totality.

The panel will also make necessary recommendation to the respective countries about the measures to be taken to review or adjust or replace all bilateral treaties, including the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 and others.

The panel will visit both sides for necessary consultations and study.

The panel will make specific suggestions to settle the outstanding issues and other concerns of both sides, will give non-government and people’s level perspective to both sides that is required to revisit the bilateral relations.

The installation of the EPG was first proposed during the visit of then prime minister Baburam Bhattarai during his India visit in October 2011. Several rounds of discussion were held on preparing the terms of references of the panel.

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