Nepalese officials are mulling over China’s proposal of a “two plus one” mechanism, where Beijing and New Delhi can jointly hold a dialogue with a third country in South Asia.
“We welcome the two- plus-one format as we are confident that such a dialogue will be conducted in a spirit of equality and mutual respect,” Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Nepal’s Minister of Forests and Environment, told The Hindu in Beijing.
The Chinese side has been emphatic that its relations with the Nepal will be conducted according to the five principles of peaceful coexistence — the basis for a foreign policy among equals. The joint statement issued at the end of last week’s visit to China of Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli stressed that China-Nepal ties “maintained the momentum of healthy development on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which sets a model of harmonious coexistence between countries of different size and social system.”
Separately, an official source, who did not wish to be named, had earlier told The Hindu that the Chinese side proposed to Mr. Oli, a “two-plus-one” format for dialogue. “This is different from a trilateral mechanism. Under the Chinese proposal, China and India can jointly conduct a dialogue with a third regional country. The proposal in not Nepal-specific,” the source said. .
Mr. Basnet pointed out that in the era of globalisation, it was imperative for Nepal to maintain close ties with both its neighbours — China and India.
“We respect the latest global trends. The objective situation internationally and the regionally demands that Nepal should have a high level of cooperation both with China and India,” he observed.
The Nepalese Minister saw the rise of China and India as a “big opportunity” for the development of Nepal. “Nepal’s two big neighbours are developing very fast. It is a big opportunity for us if we can manage our relations with both countries properly.”
“In this way Nepal wants to be a bridge between India and China,” he observed.
Mr. Basnet said that Nepal “understands the spirit of Wuhan,” alluding to the “informal summit” in April between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has re-railed India-China ties, following an omnibus strategic dialogue between the two leaders.
The fallout of the informal summit echoed strongly during Mr. Oli’s talks with President Xi, who had referred to his dialogue with Mr. Modi in Wuhan, the source said.
Desiring ties with both
Mr. Basnet highlighted that Nepal’s ties with India and China were governed by “specific conditions that were not contradictory.” “With India we have an open border, marked by extensive people-to people relations. This is quite unique, and must not be misused. With China too, we have a deep historical relationship.”
He pointed out that India and Nepal, at the state-to-state level had already bridged the divide caused by the 2015 events, when the flow of Indian goods into landlocked Nepal had been impeded, following a controversial agitation. “The sentiment of the people has also been moving in the positive direction, in tune with the rebooting of the political relationship, especially after Mr. Oli’s visit to India” he observed.
Mr. Basnet said that Nepal was looking for a partnership with China and India to develop connectivity in the Himalayan nation.
“Connectivity could be one of the topics of a dialogue under the two-plus-one mechanism. We could also look at the management of rivers such as Kosi and Karnali that originate in Tibet and then flow into Nepal and India.”
Courtesy: The Hindu