Kathmandu, Oct 27 In a mission to strengthen defence, security and overall ties with Nepal, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army, will arrive in Nepal on November 4 on a three-day visit.
At the invitation of General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Army Staff, Nepali Army, the Indian army chief will pay a customary visit to Nepal.
At a time when Nepal-India ties appear to have reached an all-time low due to the boundary dispute starting from November last year, Gen Naravane added a twist in May after India opened a new track linking the Mansarovar to the state of Uttarakhand.
Nepal protested the opening of the new track by India because the newly constructed road surpasses a trijuncture between Nepal, India and China. The Indian road passes across Lipulekh, that Nepal claims its own territory which Nepal had protested earlier in 2015 during an agreement between New Delhi and Beijing.
After Nepal's protest over the new road constructed by India followed by dispute in Kalapani area which is an unsettled boundary row since decades, General Naravane had said that it was in fact China that was creating a flashpoint between Delhi and Kathmandu. "I don't know what they are actually agitating about. There is a reason to believe that they might have raised this problem at the behest of someone else and that is very much a possibility," Naravane had said at an online conference in May.
His statement had created huge uproar in Kathmandu. Many officials believe that Naravane's statement was one of the major reasons behind Kathmandu's decision to release the new map on May 20 incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura which is currently occupied by India.
The main events in his programme include paying homage at the martyrs' memorial in the Army Pavilion, receiving a guard of honour in the Army Headquarters, holding official meetings with his counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa and address the student officers at the Army Command and Staff College, Shivapuri near Kathmandu, the army has said.
The main highlight of the visit will be the conferment of the rank of an honorary General of the Nepali Army to General Naravane by President of Nepal, Bidhya Devi Bhandari on November 5 amidst a special ceremony, the statement reads.
Nepal and India have a historic tradition of conferring the honorary title to each other's army chief since 1950. And Nepal Army only procure military hardware including lethal weapons from India in a concessional price since long.
General Naravane is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister and Defence Minister K. P. Sharma Oli on the final day of his visit.
( With inputs from IANS )
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