Naravane's visit aims to further strengthen strategic, defence cooperation between India and Nepal : Indian Army

Published On: November 4, 2020 08:55 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 4: Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane's ongoing visit to Nepal is aimed at further further strengthen strategic and defence cooperation between the two countries, the Indian Army said on Wednesday.

"#COAS proceeded on a three day visit to #Nepal. The visit aims to further strengthen strategic and defence cooperation between the two countries. The #COAS will be conferred with honorary rank of General of Nepali Army tomorrow," the Indian Army headquarters tweeted. 

Indian Army Chief arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day visit on Wednesday.

Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Prabhu Ram Sharma received a four-member Indian Army delegation at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

The Indian Army delegation flew to Kathmandu from New Delhi on a special Indian Air Force aircraft. The Indian Army Chief is accompanied by his spouse Veena Naravane who is also the chair-person of the Army Wives Welfare Association of Indian Army.

Naravane is visiting here at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa.

According to Nepal Army Spokesperson Santosh Ballav Poudel, Naravane is scheduled to be conferred upon the rank of an honorary General of the Nepali Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at 4 pm on Thursday at an investiture ceremony to be held at Sheetal Niwas, the Presidential palace. Conferring the highest rank to the chiefs of each other’s militaries is a tradition that has been followed by Nepal and India since 1950 after then Indian army Chief General KM Cariappa visited Ne“Nepali Army believes that exchange of such high-level visits and continuation of tradition helps in strengthening relations between the two armies, contributing to enhance relationship between the two countries,” Spokesperson Poudel said.

He will be staying at Hotel Soaltee.

Naravane will hold bilateral talks with his counterpart Thapa on Thursday. He will also interact with senior Nepal Army officials at the Army Headquarters, Bhadrakali.

In the evening, he will join a dinner to be hosted by the Nepali Army chief.

On Friday, Naravane will deliver a lecture at Nepal Army Staff and Command College in Shivapuri, where senior Nepal Army officers will be present.

Before wrapping up his three-day sojourn, the Indian Army chief will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli who is also the country’s defence minister at present.

Earlier in February this year, an invitation was extended to the Indian Army Chief by the Nepal government.

The proposed visit of the Indian Army chief could not take place in subsequent months following his controversial remarks in May on the road to Lipu Lekh, a sovereign Nepali territory which India claims as its own despite Nepal’s objection. 

Without naming any specific country, Naravane on May 14 had claimed that the Lipu Lekh Pass is not a dispute and that Nepal has raised the matter at the behest of someone else, alluding to China. The statement further soured the ties between the two countries. Even former Indian diplomats criticized the remarks made by Naravane calling it undiplomatic.

His ‘demeaning’ remarks drew sharp criticisms in Nepal, prompting protests in various parts of the country, marking a new low in India-Nepal relations. However, Indian Army Chief softened his stance later in June.

Naravane’s visit is taking place two weeks after Indian intelligence Chief Samant Kumar Goel came on a whirlwind visit.

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