Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali has said the government will not wait for the end of COVID-19 pandemic for dialogue with India on resolving the border dispute.
"Spokesperson at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said after COVID-19 pandemic…But we will not wait that long," Minister Gyawali said speaking in the International Relations Committee of the parliament on Monday.
Speaking in the committee meeting earlier, CPN leader Madhav Kumar Nepal had advised the government to immediately hold dialogue with India even if by video conferencing instead of waiting for the pandemic to end.
But Gyawali said it would not be appropriate to hold virtual meeting considering data security of a sensitive issue associated with sovereignty. "We are not in favor of holding dialogue in leisure though."
He pointed that the government is ready to talk with India at any level. He stated that the government is taking initiative to hold dialogue at the foreign secretary level agreed by both the sides, but that has not materialized.
India has not showed interest to hold the foreign secretary level talks despite Nepal twice proposing the dates for holding the meeting. "The mechanism agreed by both the sides is foreign secretary level dialogue. We want to start from there," he stressed. "We want to talk at the foreign minister or prime minister level or any other level."
He revealed that the government will also talk with China to decide about tri-nation border point in the Kalapani area. "We will first talk with India because the issue raised now is bilateral. We will also talk with China after reaching a point."
Inauguration of the Indian road via Lipu Lekh on Friday has been widely criticized by the ruling and opposition parties alike.
Nepal has consistently maintained that as per the Sugauli Treaty (1816), all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) River, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh, belong to Nepal.
Nepal had also expressed its disagreement in 2015 through separate diplomatic notes addressed to the governments of both India and China when the two sides agreed to include Lipu Lekh Pass as a bilateral trade route without Nepal’s consent in the Joint Statement issued on 15 May 2015 during the official visit of the Prime Minister of India to China.