Nepal summons Indian envoy over ‘trade obstruction’

Kathmandu, Sep 25 (IANS) With hundreds of Nepal-bound cargo-bearing trucks halted at the border, Indian ambassador Ranjit Rae was summoned to the foreign ministry on Friday for clarification whether India had imposed any restriction on trade with the Himalayan nation.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaga Raj Adhikari also sought clarification over India’s reported displeasure over the country’s new constitution, a ministry statement said.

Analysts here say that this was probably after a long time that Nepal had expressed its displeasure with India and “summoned” the Indian envoy.

During the meeting at the foreign affairs ministry in Singha Durbar, Adhikari shared the current situation at border checkpoints between both the nations and sought India’s cooperation in ensuring uninterrupted movement of vehicles carrying essential commodities to Nepal as earlier, the statement said.

While highlighting the significance of excellent relations existing between the two governments and peoples, Adhikari stressed the need to remove lapses in the supply chain that have surfaced in recent days.

He also assured Rae that there would not be any security problem for transport vehicles inside Nepal since adequate arrangements were already in place.

Besides, the minister reiterated full commitment to ensuring security to life and property of Indian nationals in Nepal.

Ambassador Rae said he would convey the issues raised by the minister to the higher authorities in the Indian government, said the statement.

The envoy said India has no intention to block trade tied with Nepal and clarified that the obstruction to the Nepal-bound cargo was due the unrest, protests and demonstrations on the Nepali side.

Hundreds of freight-carrying trucks and fuel tankers remained halted on the Indian side of the international border following concerns about violent protests in Nepal in the wake of the promulgation of the new constitution.

The Indian envoy also held separate meetings with top leaders of major political parties, including K.P. Oli, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the country’s former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Aides close to Oli and Nepal told IANS that Rae said the Nepal government deputing Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya, a close confidant of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, for talks with the agitating Madhes-based parties was a welcome step.

The agitating Madhesi parties from the Terai region maintain that the Terai-based people and ethnic groups fail to find adequate representation in the country’s new constitution that was promulgated on September 20.

They have intensified protests at the border entry points to build pressure on the Nepal government to meet their demands for amending the constitution.

Analysts in Kathmandu say Nepal-India relations were witnessing a new low following the promulgation of the new constitution in Nepal and the subsequent developments.

As the political and constitutional standoff continues, India has issued three statements within one week expressing dissatisfaction over the latest political situation in Nepal.

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