Nepal, India security talks begin


Kathmandu : After a long break following political instability in the Himalayan country, India and Nepal Monday resumed bilateral security consultations in New Delhi.

Support TwoCircles

The Indo-Nepal bilateral consultative group comprising officials from the security agencies as well as home, defence and foreign ministries of both countries are taking part in the two-day talks that will discuss the two sides’ security concerns and cooperation.

The sixth meeting of the group comes after almost a year and a half.

After Oct 2004, when King Gyanendra’s interference in the government increased, the meetings were suspended.

Though the consultative group resumed work July 2006, after the fall of the king’s government in April the same year, escalating political turmoil in Nepal again put the next meeting on hold.

The 12-member Nepali delegation is headed by Suresh Pradhan, deputy foreign secretary, while the Indian side is led by Preeti Sharan, joint secretary at the Nepal desk in the South Block.

The meeting is considered important due to the imminent April election in Nepal and the continuing turmoil in Nepal’s Terai plains that could adversely impact the polls.

A section of the Nepali media Monday speculated that the northern neighbour would ask India to resume arms assistance that was suspended in February 2005 after King Gyanendra seized absolute power with an army-backed coup.

Besides providing the indigenously manufactured Insas family of arms at 70 percent subsidy to the Nepal Army and police, India also gave training to officials.

Last year, Nepal Army Chief Gen. Rukmangud Katuwal visited India after a long hiatus caused by King Gyanendra’s power grab to break the ice between the two neighbours.

The latest meeting is likely to be monitored closely by the Maoists, who are now part of the ruling coalition in Nepal.

Though the rebels signed a peace pact in 2006, after the fall of the royal government, they continue to regard the army, once their bete noir, with suspicion.

They are also increasingly wary of India, accusing the southern neighbour of encouraging the dissident groups in the Terai plains.