The Nepal government has decided to form a four member Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to review the existing bilateral relationships with India, including the strategic Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950, prior to the maiden visit of Nepalese Prime Minister K.P.Oli. The government proposed names of four persons to form the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), during the cabinet meeting yesterday, though no formal decision was taken to this effect, minister for Information and Communication Sherdhan Rai said.
The proposed names to the group include former finance minister and former Nepalese Ambassador to India Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the Commission for Investigation Authority Suyra Nath Upadhyaya, former UN assistant secretary general Kul Chandra Gautam and CPN-UML lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai. It is said that, a formal decision in this regard shall be taken during the next cabinet meeting.
The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship allows free movement of people and goods between the two nations, along with a close relationship and collaboration on matters of defense and foreign policy.
The proposal to form the EPG comes as the government prepares for their Prime Minister’s visit to India, scheduled for the second week of February. The visit comes amid great unease in bilateral relations, owing to months-long blockade of the land-locked country, enforced by Indian-origin Madhesi people who are protesting Nepal’s new constitution.
The Third Joint Commission Meeting of Nepal and India, that was held in July 2014, had decided to set up the EPG with four members from each side, at the request of Nepal. The decision was also endorsed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal last year.
It is learnt that India has already formed a four member EPG and it will be authorized to look into the entire breadth of Nepal-India relations. Furthermore, it will get two years to come up with a comprehensive report on anything that needs to be amended in all bilateral treaties.