In a conciliatory tone, India on Thursday said it deeply values its friendly ties with Nepal, in remarks that came ahead of a vote in the Nepalese parliament on a new map of the Himalayan nation that strained ties between the two countries.
Nepal's parliament is expected to vote on Saturday on the new map featuring new areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along with border with India, notwithstanding a strong protest by New Delhi. India has been maintaining that these three areas belonged to it.
"We have already made our position clear on these issues. India deeply values its civilization, cultural and friendly relations with Nepal," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said.
Last month, India reacted angrily to Nepal showing the three areas as Nepalese territory in the new map and cautioned the country that saying such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
"Our multi-faceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in the recent years with increased focus and enhanced government of India's assistance on humanitarian, development and connectivity projects in Nepal," Srivastava said at an online media briefing when asked about the issue.
Earlier this week, the Nepalese Parliament unanimously endorsed a proposal to consider a constitution amendment bill to pave way for endorsing the new map.
Nepal released the revised political and administrative map of the country laying claim over the strategically key areas days after India inaugurated a strategically key road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.
The ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 80-KM-long road on May 8.
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Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.
In his comments on Thursday, Srivastava also spoke about how India has been reaching out to friendly neighbouring countries including Nepal in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative to chart out a common strategy to combat COVID-19 in the region.
"India has extended all possible technical, medical and humanitarian assistance to Nepal. We have supplied about 25 tonnes of medical aid to Nepal including Paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) medicines, test kits and other medical supplies," he said.
"Government of India has also ensured that there is no untoward disruption in trade and supply of essential goods to Nepal, despite the lockdown on both sides. India has also helped in repatriation of Nepalese nationals stranded abroad on humanitarian grounds," the MEA spokesperson added.
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