Nepal objects to India-China accord on Lipu-Lekh Pass

Kathmandu, June 9 (IANS) Nepal’s parliament on Tuesday expressed serious concern and reservations over recent India-China agreement to expand border trade at Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass, a far western point of Nepal, which the Nepal government claims to be a part of its territory.

The Nepal government has already instructed its missions in New Delhi and Beijing to study the accord and find out what actually it means for Nepal.

According to a joint statement issued on May 15 in Beijing during Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s visit to China, the two countries agreed to expand border trade at Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass.

The 28th point of the joint communique states that “the two sides recognised that enhancing border areas cooperation through border trade, pilgrimage by people of the two countries and other exchanges can effectively promote mutual trust, and agreed to further broaden this cooperation so as to transform the border into a bridge of cooperation and exchanges”.

“The two sides agreed to hold negotiation on augmenting the list of traded commodities, and expand border trade at Nathu La, Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass and Shipki La,” it stated.

A meeting of International Relations and Labour Committee of Nepal’s parliament on Tuesday concluded that the agreement was against international principles and values at a time when Nepal and India were working to resolve the boundary issues.

The far west border point of Nepal, Kalapani, is disputed border area between Nepal and India and Lipu-Lekh is near Kalapani. Nepal and India have two major outstanding boundary disputes in Kalapani and Susta.

Lipu-Lekh, also known as tri-corner, is the last point of Nepal’s border with China and India and used to be an ancient route for traders and pilgrims transiting between Nepal and Tibet.

China has regarded the area as a tri-junction boundary point between Nepal, India and China and a Nepal-China boundary agreement signed three-and-half decades ago has recognised that Kalapani, an area beyond the origin of the Mahakali river, lies inside the Nepali territory.

Lipu-Lekh is at a very strategic location, said the house panel in its decision and instruction the ministry of foreign affairs to find out what the deal was between India and China and that the people of Nepal should know whether that accord would undermine Nepal’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national interest.

The panel also instructed the foreign ministry to conduct a study over the deal, and take up the matter with India and China while urging both the neighbours to correct their agreement pact immediately.

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