| April 21, 2019

Resolve Lipu-Lekh Pass dispute: House panel to govt

KATHMANDU, June 9: The parliamentary committee on International Relations and Labor has directed the government to take diplomatic initiatives to correct India-China's bilateral agreement so that Nepal's trade cab be expanded via Lipu-Lekh pass.

Stating that the two countries agreed to expand border trade through the Lipu-Lekh Pass without the consent of the Nepali government even as the area belongs to Nepal, a meeting of the committee on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the agreement between the two countries and asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take diplomatic initiatives to correct the agreement.
During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to China, the two countries agreed to expand border trade at Lipu-Lekh Pass. Point number 28 of the 41-point communiqué states that the two sides, India and China, "agreed to hold negotiations on augmenting the list of traded commodities, and expand border trade at Lipu-Lekh Pass."

The committee said the agreement violates international law as it was signed without taking consent from Nepal.

Speaking at the committee's meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said Lipu-Lekh Pass lies in Nepal as per the Sugauli Treaty with the British India in 1816. But India has continued to claim ownership over the territory, which is located in Darchula district and shares border with both India and China.

The agreement is objectionable at a time when the government of Nepal and India have been working to settle dispute over the territory, said the committee.

Minister Pandey said the ministry has already drawn the attention of India and China to the agreement. "National consensus among political parties is necessary to press the two countries to correct the agreement that undermines our national sovereignty," he said.

The committee also directed Minister Pandey to immediately carry out a detailed study of the agreement and report the committee on how the accord would affect Nepal if the two countries expanded border trade at Lipu-Lekh Pass.