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Nepal will not compromise on sovereign equality in its engagement with either India or China: PM Oli

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India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries.

Ahead of the Nepalese foreign minister’s visit to New Delhi during which his talks are likely to be centered on the border row, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has said that his country will not compromise on sovereign equality in its engagement with either India or China.

“The area (of) Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani is the territory of Nepal, is (a) very sacred part of Nepal,” 68-year-old Mr. Oli was quoted as saying by the WION news channel.

“We are not in position to claim the territory of China or India. But we must claim our territory with our friends,” said Mr. Oli, who had triggered the border row last year after his government came out with a new political map that showed the three Indian territories as part of Nepal.

His remarks came just two days ahead of Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali’s visit to New Delhi on January 14 – the senior most political leader from Nepal to visit India after strain in bilateral ties.

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On Sunday, Mr. Oli had said that Mr. Gyawali’s discussions in New Delhi will be centered on the border issue.

After Nepal released the map last year, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.

“I believe that 2021 will be the year where we can declare there are no problems between the two countries- Nepal and India,” Mr. Oli said.

He also offered to resolve differences between India and China, the channel said in a press release.

“If we can be instrumental to support them, help them to resolve the problems, we are ready,” Mr. Oli said.

Analysis | Why did Oli recommend to dissolve Parliament?

On the domestic political crisis that led him to recommend the dissolution of the House of Representatives, Oli blamed former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ for a split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party.

He also defended his decision to dissolve the House, saying his actions were aimed at preventing Nepal from being pushed towards instability and horse-trading.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives in December on the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli and announced mid-term general election in April-May, a decision termed “unconstitutional, impulsive and autocratic” by the Opposition and the Prachanda-led faction in the ruling Nepal Communist Party.

“Their (Prachanda faction) positions are still there in my party. My second chairman is Pushpa Kamal Dahal- even now, senior leaders are Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhav Nepal- even now. If they come, I can pardon them,” Mr. Oli said, apparently offering an olive branch to his rival faction.

Also read | Want equality-based friendship with India, says Nepal PM Oli

Mr. Oli also claimed that some elements of India are hatching a conspiracy to unseat him from office, but he ruled out Chinese hand in Nepal’s internal politics.

“We love our independence and freedom to decide on our internal affairs, and we don’t want any type of interference from outside, from north or south,” said Mr. Oli, referring to China and India.

In December, China sent a four-member high-level delegation to Nepal to prevent a split within the NCP. The team – led by a Vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party, Guo Yezhou – held separate meetings with several top NCP leaders before returning home without much success in its mission.

India has described Mr. Oli’s sudden decision to dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections as an “internal matter” that is for the country to decide as per its democratic processes.

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