India and Nepal on Friday discussed several areas of cooperation including political and security issues and border management and exchanged views on cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge railway line.
Nepal congratulated India on the remarkable success in the production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in India and requested for early provision of vaccines to Nepal.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Nepali counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali co-chaired the sixth India and Nepal Joint Commission meeting which also discussed expansion of petroleum products pipeline to Chitwan and the establishment of a new pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepal.
The Joint Commission comprehensively reviewed all aspects of multifaceted cooperation between the two countries and "explored ways to further strengthen the traditionally close and friendly ties".
"Both sides discussed several areas of cooperation including in the areas of connectivity, economy and trade, power, oil and gas, water resources, political and security issues, border management, development partnership, tourism, culture, education and capacity building," a Ministry of External Affairs release said.
"Significant and concrete progress made since the last meeting of the Joint Commission in taking forward several bilateral initiatives was acknowledged," it added.
The two leaders noted the close cooperation between the two countries in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
"Nepal congratulated India on the remarkable success in the production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in India and requested for early provision of vaccines," the release said.
The two delegations included Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal and other senior officials from both sides.
Noting the milestone achieved by the Motihari-Amlekhganj petroleum products pipeline, the two sides discussed the expansion of the pipeline to Chitwan and the establishment of a new pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepal.
"Both sides welcomed the completion of the work on the first passenger railway line between India and Nepal from Jaynagar to Kurtha via Janakpur and noted that operating procedures for commencement of train services were being finalized. Other cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge railway line, were also discussed," the release said.
The Joint Commission emphasized the need to facilitate the cross-border movement of people and goods.
It was noted that the recently inaugurated Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj and Biratnagar have helped in seamless movement of people and trade between the two countries.
Both sides welcomed the commencement of construction of third ICP at Nepalgunj.
India conveyed that construction of new ICP at Bhairahwa would be initiated shortly.
Discussions were held on expediting joint hydropower projects, including the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, which have numerous benefits for the people of both countries.
India conveyed that it would undertake two more cultural heritage projects in Nepal - Pashupatinath Riverfront Development and the Bhandarkhal Garden Restoration in Patan Durbar with grant assistance.
Both sides also exchanged views on international, regional and sub-regional cooperation.
Nepal expressed support for India's permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council to reflect the changed balance of power.
Both sides agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Commission in Nepal on mutually convenient dates, the release said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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