Calling the India-Nepal ties as "tall as the Himalayas and as deep as the Indian Ocean," Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Thursday said India's goodwill towards its neighbour comes with "no strings attached", however, without naming China, CDS Rawat warned Kathmandu to be cautious when signing agreements with "other countries" in the region.
"...the canvas and spread of cooperation, friendship and people to people contact between India and Nepal are deep and extensive. But in the present age, Nepal is also opening to other nations including China based on its independent foreign policy," said General Rawat at the second annual dialogue with the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE) during the virtual meeting.
Speaking on the theme of "Soft Power Dimension: India-Nepal Relations," CDS Rawat said, "India's goodwill comes with no strings attached. Nepal is free to act independently in international affairs but must be vigilant and learn from Sri Lanka and other nations which have also signed agreements with other countries in the region."
General Bipin Rawat said it is necessary to strengthen the existing relationship further for the peace and prosperity for both countries who are already "inseparable in every way."
Talking about the economic relations between the two countries, CDS Rawat said, "India''s economic relations with Nepal is quite unique although much more could be done. In 2019-2020 economic assistance has crossed Rs 12 billion for development in the various sector of the economy such as agriculture, water resources, energy, infrastructure and the list can go on and on."
"The total bilateral trade has reached to the extend USD 8.27 billion. India's exports for the same have been around USD 7.76 billion while the imports into India from Nepal has been USD 508 million," General Rawat said.
The Chief of Defence Staff said that India accounts for over 30 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investment in Nepal and over 150 Indian ventures are also operating in Nepal, in various fields.
"The balance of trade is much in India's favour considering the many essential items have to be imported into Nepal from India. As far the investment is concerned, India accounts for over 30 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investment in Nepal and over 150 Indian ventures are successfully operating in Nepal in various fields such as manufacturing, services, banking, insurance, education, telecom, power sector and tourism industry," he said.
While concluding his speech, CDS Rawat reiterated the importance of the bilateral relationship, saying that "India and Nepal are unique and have been in existence for centuries and the bonds are so pure and so strong that aspiration, goodwill and spirituality between these two nations are as tall as the Himalayas and as deep as the Indian Ocean."
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