Nepal Army Chief has declined Indian Army’s invitation to attend a gathering of BIMSTEC army chiefs of the grouping. Earlier, the country had decided to skip the first ever BIMSTEC military exercise in India. With this move, Nepal’s relation with India seems to be growing sour day by day.
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The newly appointed Army Chief Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal has refused to attend a meeting of BIMSTEC army chiefs of the grouping on September 16, official sources said.
The armies of BIMSTEC member nations, excluding Nepal and Thailand, started a week-long anti-terror exercise at Aundh near Pune on Monday to improve teamwork in dealing with the challenge of terrorism in the region.
Each participating country has sent its troops as well as a three-member team as observers. Though Nepal and Thailand are not participating in the exercise, both the countries sent observers for it.
They said Thapa communicated to the Indian Army his inability to accompany the conclave as he has prior commitments including ceremonial events to attend in his country, the sources said.
The development comes in the backdrop of China’s growing approaches towards Nepal for deeper economic and security cooperation. Last month, Nepal had announced that it would partake in a military exercise with China.
Indian Army officials said the gathering is focused on boosting inter-operability among the forces and exchanging best practices to prevent terror-related activities.
They said the long-term goal of the initiative is to explore the possibility of creating a viable regional security architecture to deal with the challenge of terrorism and transnational crimes. India has been pushing for making the BIMSTEC an active form for regional collaboration as an agreement under the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) framework was not progressing.