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India irked by Deuba

Friday, August 25th, 2017
pm deuba visit India

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Om Astha Rai in New Delhi

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s state visit to India has laid bare just how insecure New Delhi feels about Beijing’s influence in Kathmandu, especially in the wake of the stand-off over the disputed Doklam region of the China-Bhutan border.

It is not clear why exactly Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Deuba for an unscheduled tea talk ahead of their official meetings on Thursday. Analysts interpreted that as India’s attempt to project Nepal as being on its side and against China over the Doklam row.

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Things went well until a union minister went over-the-top in his attempt to show Nepal is India’s friend, and not China’s. At the Civic Reception of the Nepali PM by India Foundation, a research organisation close to India’s ruling BJP, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilash Paswan said: “India will defend Nepal if a third country attacks it, and Nepal will have to support India if a third country attacks India.”

Paswan accused China of “swallowing’ Tibet, and assured that “India will not let that happen to Nepal”.

In response, Deuba said tersely: “China is a good friend of Nepal … China has always respected Nepal’s sovereignty.” Nepali Times has learnt that Deuba’s retort did not go down well in New Delhi.

Foreign Affairs Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, whom India sees as a pro-China politician, was sitting next to Deuba. After the program, some Indian politicians, diplomats and ex-army generals surrounded Mahara and asked him if he put his words in Deuba’s mouth.

Mahara later told his confidantes: “I had a hard time trying to convince the Indians that it was not my idea, and our PM spoke his own mind.”

Indian leaders were annoyed partly because Deuba did not add that “India too is Nepal’s friend, and India too has always respected Nepal’s sovereignty”, or words to that effect. Sources say Indian leaders felt that Deuba’s statement upended everything that India did to project Nepal as being closer to India rather than China.

The joint statement between Nepal and India was issued late on Thursday. A top Nepali delegate told Nepali Times that Nepal had to refuse “too many points” that the Indian side insisted on inserting into it.

India did manage to insert a line in the 46-point joint statement stating that the two countries are ‘committed to further enhancing close cooperation between the Indian Army and the Nepal Army’.  A delegate told Nepali Times that this line shows Nepal is going the Bhutan way regarding national security, which could be India’s aim at a time when it is confronting China over Bhutan.



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2 Responses to “India irked by Deuba”

  1. G K Dippy on Says:

    We have only two countries as our neighbours which 3rd country will attack Nepal?

  2. Marjolaine Hohberger on Says:

    Amend history

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