Nepal snubs Indian call for second consulate

India has long sought a second consulate in Nepalganj, citing the growing volume of trade through the southern town.

Kathmandu: Despite the apparent bonhomie during Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai`s maiden official visit to New Delhi this month and his assertion that it created trust between the two neighbours, Kathmandu has rejected a renewed request by India to open a second consulate in the country.

Besides the embassy in Kathmandu and a consulate in Birgunj in southern Nepal, New Delhi has long since seeking a second consulate in Nepalganj, citing the growing volume of trade through the southern town and the spurt in across-the-border traffic.

The call for a second consulate was also broached this April when Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna visited Nepal for three days to resume bilateral talks.

However, Nepal`s major political parties, including the ruling Maoists, have ruled out a second Indian consulate in Nepal.

Though the official line is that the volume of traffic and trade is still not sufficient to merit a third Indian mission, the rejection is due to diplomatic considerations.

Several other foreign governments have also conveyed to Nepal their interest in opening a second mission in southern Nepal. They include the US, China and Pakistan.

Besides being of strategic importance due to its proximity to the open border with India, Nepal`s Terai remains a hot bed of crime and armed revolts.

Nepal is therefore loath to allow any foreign government to have a foothold in the sensitive region.

However, India regards Nepalganj as a security concern as well due to the large number of madrassas there that have a number of foreign students and the use of Nepalganj by couriers to smuggle drugs, weapons and fake Indian currency notes to Indian cities.

India is Nepal`s biggest trade partner accounting for over 60 percent of Kathmandu`s trade with other countries.


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