India must own up EPG report: Minister

Published On: December 14, 2018 09:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 14: Amid speculation that the Indian side had snubbed the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report, Nepal has said that India cannot question the EPG) report as it was prepared by a joint team nominated and accepted by the incumbent governments of both countries.

Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota who is also the government's spokesperson said that Nepal government does not even imagine that India will not receive the EPG report as the document was not prepared unilaterally by Nepal. He also said that Nepal is hoping to see an early implementation of the report, which seeks to redefine Nepal-India relations in the changed political reality.

Responding to a query by journalists during a press conference at his office in Singha Durbar on Thursday, Minister Baskota argued that India must own up the report prepared by the EPG as the group was formed as per the Memorandum of Understanding reached between the two countries.

“EPG was formed following an understanding reached between the prime ministers of both countries and the report was prepared by members nominated and accepted by both countries, so Nepal does not think that India will not receive the EPG report,” said Baskota.

Indian Prime Minister Modi has reportedly been reluctant to meet the EPG members who are to submit the EPG report, according to sources familiar with the development. The EPG members have reportedly been seeking an appointment with Modi for the past five months but the Indian prime minister has not met them citing his busy schedule. Sources said Modi is displeased with some of the recommendations of the joint report.

The ninth meeting of the EPG held in Kathmandu on June 30 had come up with a single joint report to be submitted to the prime ministers of both the countries for their consideration. EPG has been dissolved after its two-year term expired on July 4.

Minister Baskota was of the view that if India opted to avoid the report it may result in trouble in bilateral relations between Nepal and India. Asked about progress on the implementation of the EPG, Baskota clarified that Nepal government hopes the Indian side will soon receive the EPG report since the Indian side has not yet informed Nepal that it would reject the report.

Although the content of the report has yet to be officially made public, a section of Indian policymakers and strategic thinkers have already expressed their dissatisfaction over some recommendations reportedly included in the report. Recently reports have appeared in the media that Modi has been advised not to receive the EPG report as it has recommended revision of some 'unequal' treaties, which is against the interest of India.

Indian ruling party leader Vijay Jolly said publicly during his visit to Kathmandu earlier this month that the report was unacceptable for India. Media reports suggest that the report recommends introducing 'smart border' and replacing or revising the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty. The controversial treaty served as the basis of bilateral relations between post-Rana era Nepal and post- British Raj India.

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