After snubbing India, Nepal gets closer to China, prepares for joint military exercise

The joint military drill between Nepal and China – Sagarmatha Friendship-2 – is slated to be held in Sichuan Province from September 17.

After snubbing India, Nepal gets closer to China, prepares for joint military exercise

Nepal recently snubbed India by pulling out of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) military drill. However, the Himalayan nation decided to go ahead with its joint military drill with China later in September, in an apparent snub to India.

The joint military drill with China – Sagarmatha Friendship-2 – is slated to be held in Sichuan Province from September 17. Personnel of Nepal Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army will participate in the 10-day military exercise. Armies of the two nations had participate in the first edition of the joint exercise in April 2017.

Nepal has justified its decision to go ahead with the joint military drill with China saying it’s a pre-scheduled annual exercise. The neighbour reportedly does not want the platform of BIMSTEC to be used for military purposes, claiming that it is for trade purposes.

Kundan Aryal, Press Adviser to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had told Xinhua news agency that Nepal would not be a part of the joint military drill to be organised in Maharashtra's Pune from September 10-16.

"Nepal will not participate in the BIMSTEC joint military drill. This is the official decision of the government," he had said, without giving details about the reasons behind the decision.

The BIMSTEC member countries include India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan- countries which are dependent on the Bay of Bengal. It was founded in 1997. The grouping accounts for 22 percent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion.

The news of Nepal's withdrawal from the joint military drill came after China extended its support by providing four seaports and three land ports to former, cutting India's monopoly over trade.

Though there has been no official rebuttal from India, a report in The Times of India suggested that the move by Nepal to pull out at the last moment had not gone down well New Delhi. The report said that an advance military team from Kathmandu had already landed in India.

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