India assures stranded cargo vessels will be rerouted, says DPM Thapa

Kathmandu, October 19

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, who returned home from his three-day visit to India, said Indian leaders had assured him that cargo vehicles stranded on the Indian side would be rerouted and supplies to Nepal would be eased through border entry points that are least affected by protests.

He said this at a press briefing today at Tribhuvan International Airport after his return from India.

According to him, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj repeatedly told him that India did not have any prescription for Nepal, but was only concerned about peace and stability in the country.

According to a press release issued by the Indian Prime Minister’s Office after Thapa called on Indian Prime Minister Modi, the latter reiterated that India’s only desire was to see a united, inclusive, stable and prosperous Nepal, and that India was committed to strengthening the traditional bonds of friendship and kinship with the people of Nepal.

Thapa said the Indian leaders told him that it would be better if Nepal ensured ownership of the constitution for all, including the disgruntled (Madhesi and Tharu) groups.

He said he told the Indian leaders that the constitution was a document of compromise and he himself had endorsed it with a note of dissent. Thapa also told the Indian leaders that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had taken the initiative to seek a negotiated settlement of the constitutional issues.

Thapa, who met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi earlier today said he expressed Nepal’s concerns over the acute shortage of fuel and other commodities following the obstruction of supplies at the Nepal-India border to the Indian leadership.

He had met Swaraj and Singh yesterday.

In response, according to Thapa, the top Indian officials said India was also deeply concerned and assured him that there would not be any hindrance from their side in opening all the border points.

“I believe this visit played a role in removing misunderstandings between Nepal and India,” Thapa said, adding that he had returned home with great optimism.

He said he received assurances from Indian leaders about getting fuel from the nearest depots in India from the border points where there were no obstructions.

DPM Thapa, however, said it was a challenge for Nepal to bring goods from border points into various places of the country.

Thapa said he discussed other bilateral issues including social, economic and boundary issues with India leaders. Both sides decided to review progress on these issues in New Delhi by the end of this year through the mechanism of Joint Commission, Thapa added.

He said his visit had also prepared the ground for the PM’s visit.

Thapa had flown to the Indian capital on Saturday to hold talks with the Indian government over the disruption of essential supplies to Nepal. Nepal is reeling under acute shortage of petroleum products and other commodities after the Madhesi parties, disgruntled over the provisions in the new constitution, resorted to obstruction of supplies at the major customs points along the Nepal-India border.