Nepal’s foreign minister on Monday held a meeting with India’s ambassador, three days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a new route for the Kailash Mansarovar yatra via the Lipulekh pass, which Kathmandu claims is part of its territory.
“Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali conveyed Government of Nepal’s position on boundary issues to Ambassador of India to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra at a meeting held at MoFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] today [Monday] and handed over a diplomatic note in this regard,” Nepal’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.
Nepal has repeatedly claimed that India’s decision to build the 80-km road in Uttarakhand, which connects close to the Line of Actual Control and opens a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra, is a breach of an agreement between the two countries. In its response, India said the new route is “completely within the territory” of the country. The government added that the boundary delineation exercise with Nepal was in process and that India was committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue.
The link road is expected to help pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet by significantly reducing the travel time. Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both the countries claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory – India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Darchula district.
Gyawali on Sunday warned that Nepal will intensify security along the border with India. “The number of border posts on our side is less when compared to the security arrangement on the Indian side,” he said. “We have approximately 120 border posts at present and are planning to increase the numbers in the future.”
The foreign minister said that the link road inaugurated by India has been built in the territory that historically belongs to Nepal. “As per the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the territory to the east of the Mahakali river belongs to Nepal and both sides had agreed way back in 1988 to follow the principle of ‘fixed border’ in determining the border of Nepal,” he said.