DPM Kamal Thapa welcoming participants during the inaugural session of the Eminent Persons Group meeting that kicked off at Annapurna Hotel in Kathmandu on Monday. (Dipesh Shrestha/Republica)
Mandated to review all agreements between Nepal, India
KATHMANDU, July 4: The Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) from Nepal and India has started its first meeting in Kathmandu. The two-day meeting will run on Monday and Tuesday.
It is for the first time in the 69 years of their bilateral relations that the two countries have formally started discussing necessary measures to replace, update, or scrap bilateral treaties, including the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950.
The meeting is convening at Hotel Annapurna.
India had formed the EPG led by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari in February and their EPG includes former Indian ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad, Professor Mahendra P Lama and Professor BC Upreti. Likewise, Nepal formed its EPG under the leadership of former minister and ambassador Bhekh Bahadur Thapa in January. Nepal's EPG includes former ambassador Nilamber Acharya, former secretary and chief commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Surya Nath Upadhyaya and CPN-UML lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai.
An agreement to establish the EPG was reached in 2011 and the two countries had agreed to prepare the Terms of Reference for the EPG in 2014, when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was in Kathmandu to attend a meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission.
According to Nepal's EPG member Rajan Bhattarai, the first meeting will be an introductory meeting.
"The EPGs have a broad mandate as it will review and analyze all the agreements and arrangements in Nepal-India relations. The first meeting will set a work modality, agendas and tone for the future," said Bhattarai.
Nepal's EPG had consulted other experts and politicians to set the agendas for the first meeting. The EPG meetings are to be held every three months.