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Army chief General MM Naravane to visit Nepal next month

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Naravane’s visit will provide an opportunity for the two sides to push defence and security cooperation after bilateral relations were affected by a border row that erupted in May

Indian Army chief General MM Naravane is set to travel to Nepal next month in the first high-level visit between the two countries since a border row hit ties earlier this year.

Nepal’s defence ministry announced on Wednesday that Naravane will visit in November. “The visit was approved by the government of Nepal on 3rd February 2020 but was postponed due to [the Covid-19] lockdown in both the countries,” it said in a statement.

In keeping with a long-standing convention between the armies of the two countries, Nepal’s President Vidya Devi Bhandari will “confer the honorary rank of general of the Nepali Army to General Naravane in an investiture ceremony during this visit”, the statement said.

Though the statement did not give the dates for the trip, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that the Indian Army chief is expected to be in Nepal during November 3-5.

Naravane’s visit will provide an opportunity for the two sides to push defence and security cooperation after bilateral relations were affected by a border row that erupted in May.

At the time, Nepal objected to the opening of a new road to Lipulekh region on the border with Tibet by India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh. Nepal then issued a new map that showed Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, all controlled by India, as part of Nepalese territory, exacerbating the row.

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