KOSH RAJ KOIRALA
NEW DELHI, April 24: At a time when top leadership of the UCPN (Maoist) has been pushing the idea of ´trilateral cooperation´ model in Nepal, India has cold-shouldered the proposal, saying India and China still need more time to ´discover each other´ to make that a reality.
Indian Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid said though India and China have been working together multilaterally and bilaterally in various areas over the past several years they have yet to reach to the level where they can work trilaterally.
"We still have not reached to the level that we can work trilaterally everywhere. In some places we have worked with China multilaterally; we have worked with China bilaterally. But it may be still too early thinking or working trilaterally [with China]," he said.
The remark by Indian Foreign Minister Khurshid comes in the wake UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal, who is scheduled to visit India on April 27-28, proposing during his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing for trilateral cooperation for the development of Nepal. Dahal had even proposed developing Lumbini and Chisapani hydropower projects jointly by India, Nepal and China in his meeting with President Xi in the Great Hall of the People.
Talking to a group of visiting Nepali journalists at his office in South Block on Tuesday, Minister Khurshid said India and China are currently in the process of discovering each other and studying whether they can work trilaterally after the bitter war they fought in 1962. "We are still in the process of discovering China. China is in the process of discovering India. As we discover each other and we learn to work together in a relationship, we still have to see whether this can now be taken to a level of working multilaterally and trilaterally or bilaterally," he said.
While responding a query from journalists as to what does India think about Dahal´s proposal, Khurshid indicated that India is not keen on the trilateral cooperation model mainly due to China´s relations with Pakistan. "China has its friend Pakistan also. We have some problems with Pakistan. We are not saying China should not be friends with Pakistan. But we are saying to China please don´t give Pakistan any encouragement to be hostile toward India," he further said.
Khurshid said that India is more than happy to work bilaterally with both Nepal and China, but not on trilateral basis yet. "You [Nepal] be friend and tell them [China] to be good to India also. And if you like to tell us to be good to them, let us all be good to each other. But please do not give them anything that will hurt India," he said. "This is the conversation we have with China. This is I said discovery process between us and the process of evolving relationship."
However, Khurshid cautiously added that such a cooperation model may be possible in future should the relations between India and China go straight and China stopped giving any encouragement to Pakistan to be hostile against India. "But I am not saying no. I am saying that this is a process we must discover. We want this to reach the level where this can become reality," he added. "Whereas right now it is only a vision, something some people want done."
On the occasion, Minister Khurshid said that India has given high priority to the relations with Nepal and that India is closely watching and supporting Nepal to help it come out from the political transition. While adding that India wishes to see Nepal holding fresh Constituent Assembly election at the earliest and promulgating a new constitution, he said that federalism as a means of decentralization could help Nepal to its endeavor for prosperity and progress.
When asked if India had ´cornered´ its traditional allies Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, Khurshid said India does not have policy to do anything such to the political parties in Nepal and it is for the people of Nepal by means of election to decide to the strength and recognition to individual political party. He said that issues of mutual interests concerning the two countries and political development taking place in Nepal will be discussed during the visit of Maoist Chairman Dahal in India.