Foreign Ministry has forwarded drafts of five letters of exchange (LoEs) sent by Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to India’s Ministry of External Affairs before signing the transit agreements.

The two neighbours had already agreed in principle to sign the agreement two years ago.

The letters of exchanges have been sent to the Foreign Ministry by the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies some one-and-a-half year ago. But the Foreign Ministry remembered the issue only after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Kathmandu.

The Foreign Ministry has been asked to include the transit issues during the Nepal-India Joint Council meeting.

The letters of exchanges are key to operationalisation of railway transit through Singhabad to Rohanpur, simplification in modality for traffic movement between Nepal and Bangladesh through Kakarvitta to Banglabandha, amendment to treaty of transit for the movement of traffic from and to Visakhapatnam port to Nepal – by road and rail – and traffic in transit via Nepal to India.

The Nepali side is also raising the issue of delay in the signing of Railway Service Agreement that could help Nepal use the Visakhapatnam port, which India agreed to provide to Nepal during the visit of then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in 2009 to India.

The Nepal-India Transit Treaty – renewed in January 2013 for seven years – has failed to address key issues like transshipment and the letter of exchange for a Railway Service Agreement.

Kathmandu – in the letters of exchange – has proposed the operationalisation of Visakhapatnam Port with the amendment to the Railway Service Agreement for connecting Jogbani to Biratnagar, Raxaul to Birgunj customs point and Nautanwa to Bhairahawa customs point.

Kathmandu has also proposed to use Rohanpur-Singhabad rail transit route as well as the Phulbari-Banglabandha road over Indian Territory to boost trade with Bangladesh. New Drlhi’s facilitation of movement of cargo vehicles via Kakarvitta-Phulbari (West Bengal)-Banglabandha will boost Nepal’s trade with Bangladesh.

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