PM KP Oli and Indian PM Narenda Modi at a joint press conference after a bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House of New Delhi on Saturday. All pics: RSS

Prime Minister KP Oli has reached an understanding with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to connect Nepal with India’s vast railway network.

On the second day of his three-day India visit on Saturday, Oli held a bilateral talk with Modi at Hyderbad House of New Delhi where the two sides discussed a wide range of development issues including an India-Nepal cross-border railway.

Modi told the after-talk joint press conference that the two sides have reached an understanding to connect Kathmandu with India’s railway network. As grandiosely, he announced: “We want to connect Everest to the ocean.” 

The railway linkage between Raxaul (India) and Kathmandu was also mentioned in a 12-point joint communiqué signed between the two countries on Saturday. (See the full text of communiqué below). 

The Kathmandu-India railway deal has been seen as New Delhi’s attempt to stop Oli from further tilting towards Beijing at a time when China’s own Tibet railway arrives at the Nepal northern border in Kerung in 2020. The Chinese have been proposing that it be extended into Nepal and across to the Indian border. 

After the Indian Blockade, Oli during his first tenure as Prime Minister signed a trade and transit treaty with Beijing in 2016. The treaty essentially paved the way for Nepal to access Chinese ports, but India was not pleased. 

Since then, New Delhi has been trying to keep Nepal within its sphere of influence, and is even said to have cobbled a coalition that ousted Oli from power.

But Oli brandished the nationalism card and his UML party won last year’s parliamentary-provincial elections. After that the Indian establishment went out of its way to woo Oli and rebuild trust. For his part, Oli has stopped making scathing remarks against India.

At the joint press conference in Delhi, Oli thanked Modi for the latter’s promise to help connect Nepal with the sea. However, details have not been made public about the proposed railway between Kathmandu and India.

Analysts say the proposed Kathmandu-India railway is India’s answer to China’s Tibet railway and its growing trade and investment in Nepal.

Oli and Modi also remotely inaugurated an Integrated Border Check Post in Birganj and the Amlekhganj-Motihari oil pipeline. The two sides also reached an understanding to expedite the much-delayed Pancheshwar river project, the Tarai road network, and other infrastructure projects. 

Joint Statement during the State Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India (April 07, 2018) April 07, 2018

1. The Rt. Hon’ble Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, is on a State visit to India from April 6-8, 2018, at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

2. On April 7, 2018, the two Prime Ministers comprehensively reviewed the entire spectrum of multifaceted ties between the two countries. They welcomed the growing partnership between the two governments, private sector and at the people’s level. The two Prime Ministers resolved to work together to take bilateral relations to newer heights on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and benefit.

3. Recalling that the close and friendly India-Nepal relations are built on the strong foundation of shared historical and cultural links and close people to people contacts, the two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of regular high-level political exchanges in cementing bilateral ties.

4. Prime Minister Oli stated that his government attaches high importance to further strengthening friendly relations with India. He expressed the desire of the Government of Nepal to develop bilateral relations in a way so as to benefit from India’s progress and prosperity for economic transformation and development. Prime Minister Modi assured Prime Minister Oli that India remains committed to strengthening its partnership with Nepal as per the priorities of the Government of Nepal.

5. Prime Minister Modi stated that Government of India’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ is a guiding framework for India’s engagement with its neighbours for a shared vision of inclusive development and prosperity. Prime Minister Oli stated that after the landmark political transformation, his Government has given priority to economic transformation with the motto ‘Samriddha Nepal Sukhi Nepali’. Prime Minister Modi congratulated the people and the Government of Nepal for successful conduct of local level, federal parliament and first-ever provincial elections in Nepal and appreciated their vision for stability, and development.

6. The two Prime Ministers inaugurated the Integrated Check Post at Birgunj in Nepal. They hoped that its early operationalization will enhance cross-border trade and transit of goods and movement of people bringing greater opportunities for shared growth and development.

7. The two Prime Ministers witnessed the ground breaking ceremony of the Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross-border petroleum products pipeline at Motihari, India.

8. The two Prime Ministers underlined the need for expeditious implementation of bilateral projects in Nepal, and to reinvigorate the existing bilateral mechanisms to promote cooperative agenda across diverse spheres.

9. Three separate joint statements on the following key areas of mutual interest were issued today:
· India-Nepal: New Partnership in Agriculture 
· Expanding Rail Linkages: Connecting Raxaul in India to Kathmandu in Nepal
· New Connectivity between India and Nepal through Inland Waterways

10. The two Prime Ministers agreed that the visit has imparted new dynamism to the multifaceted partnership between the two countries.

11. Prime Minister Oli thanked Prime Minister Modi for the invitation and warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation.

12. Prime Minister Oli extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to pay an early visit to Nepal. Prime Minister Modi accepted the invitation; dates would be finalized through diplomatic channels.

New Delhi
April 07, 2018