Nepal Maoists oppose India-China trade route

Kathmandu, July 10 (IANS) Nepal’s main Maoist party has come out strongly against a Sino-Indian move to use as a trade route a disputed chunk of territory located in western Nepal.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) stated its objections in letters addressed to Prime Ministers Sushil Koirala of Nepal and Narendra Modi of India as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The letter, from party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, urged India and China to “correct” the May 25 bilateral pact between New Delhi and Beijing on Lipulekh, a disputed spot in Afar region.

Prachanda said the agreement between India and China to use Lipulekh as a bilateral trade route went against the provisions of the Sugauali treaty signed by New Delhi and Kathmandu in 1816.

Dahal said Lipulekh was closely associated with the issue of Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urged both India and China to respect it.

Writing to the Indian and Chinese leaders, Prachanda said his attention had been drawn to a provision of the Sino-Indian agreement on expanding bilateral trade signed during Modi’s visit to China.

“We believe that paragraph 28 of the joint statement between India and China incorporating Lipulekh as a bilateral trade route between the two countries runs against the provisions of the Treaty Sugauli, 1816, between Nepal and India, which clearly states that the territories east of Kali river belong to Nepal.

“…Kalapani, of which Lipulekh is a part, is a sensitive issue closely linked to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nepal and must, therefore, be respected by all.”

He urged India and China to take necessary diplomatic initiative to address “this genuine concern of the Nepalese people by making appropriate correction in the above mentioned agreement”.

“This will be in consonance with India and China’s continued and firm commitment to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nepal and the feelings of her sovereign people.

“It will also be in the best interest of our two countries and peoples,” the letter added.

The Maoists also asked Prime Minister Koirala to take diplomatic steps to safeguard territory belonging to Nepal.

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