Army chief MM Naravane will visit Nepal during the first week of November, India’s first high-level visit since ties between the two neighbors were strained after the Himalayan nation presented a new political map in May claiming several areas in Uttarakhand to be part of its territory.
Officials said General Naravane would be granted the honorary rank of “ General of the Nepalese Army ” by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari during his visit, continuing a centuries-old tradition that began in 1950 , reflecting the close ties between the two armies.
India also confers the honorary rank of “general of the Indian army” on the head of the Nepalese army.
“The army chief of staff will visit Nepal early next month. The dates for his visit are being finalized,” an official said.
During his visit, General Naravane is expected to hold extensive talks with senior Nepalese military officers, including his Nepalese counterpart, General Purna Chandra Thapa and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, officials said.
“Ways of further deepening defense cooperation between the two countries will be explored during the visit of the army chief of staff to Kathmandu,” a senior official said.
Ties between the two countries have been strained after Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a strategically crucial 80 km road on May 8 connecting the Lipulekh Pass to Dharchula in Uttarakhand.
Nepal protested the inauguration of the road, claiming that it crossed its territory. A few days later, Nepal released the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
Amid the row, Gen. MM Naravane said there was reason to believe Nepal was opposing the route at the behest of “someone else,” in an apparent reference to a role. possible from China in this regard. The comments sparked angry reactions from Nepal.
India also released a new map in November 2019 showing areas as its territories.
After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and warning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of land claims would not be acceptable to it.
In June, the Nepalese Parliament approved the new political map of the country with the areas to which India maintains their membership.
In its reaction, after Nepal’s lower house of parliament approved the bill, India called “the artificial enlargement” of the neighboring country’s land claims as unsustainable.
India said Nepal’s action violated an agreement between the two countries to resolve border issues through talks.
Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli asserted that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to his country and promised to “get” them back from India.
Lipulekh Pass is a point in the west near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory – India in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand and Nepal in the Dharchula district.