The foreign ministers of India and Nepal in the sixth round of joint commission meeting focussed on COVID-19 vaccines, the border issue, and connectivity

New Delhi: In one of the key developments in India-Nepal ties, the foreign ministers of both the countries sat for the sixth round of joint commission meeting that took place in the national capital. The meeting saw the key focus being on COVID-19 vaccines, the border issue, and connectivity.

On the vaccine, India assured that Nepal's requirement will be a priority consideration. This comes on a day when Nepal has approved India's Covishield vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India (SII). Nepal wants 20 per cent or around 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India.

A release by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, "The close cooperation between the two sides in combating COVID-19 pandemic in the region was noted. Nepal congratulated India on the remarkable success in the production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in India and requested for early provision of vaccines to Nepal."

The meet which was chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Nepal's Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali saw a discussion on the border issues as well. It is to be noted that Nepal had issued a new map of the country that showed Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories drawing the ire of New Delhi which dismissed the "Unjustified Cartographic Assertion". 

The Nepali Foreign Minister speaking at a public event in Delhi said, "We desire to start the conversation with a view to resolving the question of boundary alignment in the remaining segments. Finding an agreeable boundary alignment in these segments may not only take us to the stage of the fully settled international boundary but may also help generate positive vibe in public sentiment as well as help instil a greater degree of trust and confidence in bilateral relations."

On connectivity, both sides discussed, a new oil pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepal and a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge railway line. Both sides welcomed the commencement of construction of third Integrated Check Posts at Nepalgunj.

On the Pancheshwar hydropower project, the Nepali FM said, "Our recent conversation on this transformative mega project has been encouraging. Once realized, Pancheshwar will not only be a big project on its own but also set a success story of how we can make arrangements for cost and benefit sharing in harnessing of our vast water resources."

The talks happen in the backdrop of the political crisis in the country with Nepal PM Oli dissolving the lower house of the Parliament. The country goes to the election later in 2021.