KATHMANDU, May 13: India has positively responded to Nepal’s request for expanding cooperation in civil aviation sector including permission for additional air routes via Indian territory.
The two countries have agreed to hold early discussions on technical issues regarding the additional air entry routes to Nepal, according to a 16-point joint statement issued before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his two-day state visit to Nepal.
Nepal has been demanding additional cross-border air routes via Janakpur, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar. As Nepal has expedited construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa and another international airport in Nijgadh, Nepal has been pushing the agenda of the cross-border air routes for the past nine years.
Currently, most airlines arriving in the country’s only international airport in Kathmandu use single entry point in Simara, although two other entry points in Mechi and Tumlingtar are designated for aircraft coming from Bhutan and Tibet side. However, according to civil aviation officials, there are seven exit points designated for aircraft flying out of Nepal including Bhairahawa and Mahendranagar in the west, Simara, Biratnagar, Tumlingtar, Kakarbhitta and Janakpur in the east.
Indian Prime Minister Modi, before departing from Kathmandu, said his visit to Nepal was historic and had given him an opportunity to connect with the wonderful people in Nepal.
“Talks with PM Oli were productive. New vigor has been added to India-Nepal relations through this visit,” he wrote on Twitter.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said the visit of Prime Minister Modi was important in identifying and resolving the issues that have hindered cooperation in various areas. Minister Gyawali said the visit has helped to further strengthen the deep-rooted relations that subsist between Nepal and India since millennia.
Talking to mediapersons after seeing off Modi at Tribhuvan International Airport, Minister Gyawali said the two countries have agreed to expand cooperation in railways, waterways and agriculture sector.
He also said that the two countries have set a deadline for September to resolve pending issues and expedite implementation of the past agreements.
According to the joint statement, Nepal and India have agreed that effective implementation of the bilateral initiatives in agriculture, railway linkages and development of inland waterways, as agreed upon by the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Oli to India would have transformational impact in these areas.
The two sides also agreed to regularly hold bilateral meetings including meetings of Nepal-India Joint Commission at foreign/external affairs ministerial level, to review the overall state of bilateral relations, and for the expeditious implementation of the economic and development projects.
In regard to reducing the ballooning trade deficit, the two prime ministers welcomed the recently held Inter-Governmental Committee Meeting on Trade, Transit and Cooperation to control unauthorized trade and to consider amendments to the Treaty of Transit and related agreements to facilitate Nepal’s access to the Indian market.
The two prime ministers reiterated cooperation in water resources for mutual benefit in areas like inundation and flood management, irrigation and to enhance the pace of implementation of the ongoing bilateral projects including Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. Besides laying the foundation stone of the 900 MW Arun III hydroelectric project, Prime Minister Modi also visited Janakpur and Muktinath and attended civic reception in Kathmandu and Janakpur.