Visiting Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Friday pitched for talks between India and Nepal to resolve the outstanding boundary issue, sought an early review of the bilateral peace and friendship treaty of 1950 and flagged concerns over his country's trade deficit with India.
In an address at the Indian Council of World Affairs, he said Nepal wants to take the relations with India to the next level, but at the same time added: "We should be mindful equally that healthy relations require continuous nurturing, creative thinking, promptness and readiness to understand each other in changing dynamics."
Referring to the boundary dispute, the Nepalese foreign minister said finding a solution to it will help instill greater degree of trust and confidence in bilateral ties.
"While both sides have agreed to resolve the boundary question through talks, we have also shown wisdom that despite the difference in one area, the momentum of our overall engagements is continued," he said.
"We are also mindful that we should not let any outstanding issue between us be there forever and become irritant in an otherwise friendly relationship," he said.
Gyawali, on a three-day visit, held wide-ranging talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday.
Nepalese diplomatic sources said the boundary issue figured in an one-on-one meeting between the two foreign ministers.
Ties between India and Nepal came under severe strain after Nepal last year published a new political map that showed the three Indian territories -- Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh -- as part of Nepal.
Gyawali said building and nurturing trust is absolutely essential for the health and harmony of any relationship, and added that 'in this spirit, we desire to start the conversation with a view to resolving the question of boundary alignment in the remaining segments'.
"Many of you may be aware that Nepal and India share over 1,800 km long international boundary most of which is jointly mapped. Only in the stretches of some kilometers, the work remains to be completed," he said.
He said finding an 'agreeable boundary' alignment in these segments may also help generate a positive vibe in public sentiment as well as help instill greater degree of trust and confidence in bilateral relations.
On economic relations, Gyawali flagged concerns over Nepal's trade deficit with India, saying the Nepalese economy cannot sustain the 'alarmingly high trade imbalance' and that his country proposed certain measures to help it expand its export base.
"In the process of the review of the bilateral trade arrangement, we have proposed certain measures that would offer us some genuine space and help us expand our export base. We expect positive and forthcoming consideration of these measures," he said.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, he hoped that Nepal will get coronavirus vaccine from India.
"Today as we wait for the availability of COVID 19 vaccines, India is one of the few front runners that have started vaccinating the people.
"This has given us a great hope. I take this opportunity to congratulate India and its innovative companies for the success. Being next door, we believe we too will be availing these vaccines," he said.
The Nepalese foreign minister also referred to creation of an Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) in 2016 which was mandated to review the entire spectrum of Nepal-India relations and recommend measures to upgrade them.
"EPG has done its work and our job is to receive their report and implement it. One of the tasks assigned to EPG was the task of recommending the inputs for the review of past treaties and agreement, including the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950," he said.
"We have agreed to revise, adjust and update the Treaty to better reflect the current reality and to further consolidate and expand our friendship. We need to do it sooner than later," he added.
Talking about Nepal's external engagement, Gyawali said his country pursued an independent foreign policy and its conduct is based on a 'balanced outlook'.
"We do not harbour ill-will against anyone. Amity with all and enmity with none is our motto. Guided by the same principles, we seek to foster relations with neighbours and all friendly countries around the world," he said.
There have been concerns in India over China's growing efforts to increase influence over Nepal.
"Our foreign policy priority begins at our borders. Talking about India, our intention is to strengthen the foundation of our relations; to expand and consolidate it; and to bring the relations to the next level. Our objective is clear and unambiguous," he said.