KATHMANDU, June 30: As their last meeting kicked off in Kathmandu on Thursday, members of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) from Nepal and India have focused on settling contentious issues to come up with a consensus report.
The EPG members have focused their ninth meeting on resolving the contentious issues as the bilateral body has just five more days in its term. “We are now giving final shape to the report. We have been working to come up with a consensus report. Since we have a July 4 deadline, we are optimistic we will be able to come up with a consensus report,” said a member of the EPG from Nepal, Nilamber Acharya.
Besides Acharya, the EPG members from Nepal include Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Suryanath Upadhyay and Dr. Rajan Bhattarai. Similarly, members from the Indian side include Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Mahendra P. Lama, Jayanta Prasad and Dr. BC Upreti. The EPG members shall deliberate the contentious issues on Saturday also.
Nepal and India had agreed to form the EPG during a visit to India by then prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai in October, 2011. Later, during a visit to Nepal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, 2014, the two countries had agreed to an EPG comprising four members from each side, with a tenure of two years.
The EPG members have been mandated to submit a joint document to their respective governments, with recommendations for resolving all the contentious issues between Nepal and India, after holding their discussions at the meetings. In view of the changed political realities in both Nepal and India, the Nepali side has sought the revision of the controversial 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty and various other unequal treaties, including those related to the use of natural resources.
There is high expectation in Nepal that the final EPG meeting would be historic in the report it comes up with. “This may serve as a new basis for Nepal-India relations and friendship. Let us hope that the EPG will recommend drafting a new treaty to replace the 1950 treaty,” said former foreign minister and spokesperson of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Narayan Kaji Shrestha.