Nepal Army Withdraws From First Ever Joint Military Exercise Of BIMSTEC Nations

| September 9 , 2018 , 15:59 IST

The Nepal Army will not be participating in the first-ever joint military exercise of BIMSTEC (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) nations which is scheduled to be held in India from Monday, an aide of Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli said on Saturday.

The plans for the joint military drill were first forwarded by the Indian Army in June, to the BIMSTEC nations consisting of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Armies from all 7 of the BIMSTEC member states had agreed to send 30-member squads to participate in the 6-day joint military exercise.

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According to a report in Nepal's The Kathmandu Post, "Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli asked the national defence force not to participate in the drill, compelling the Nepal Army’s leadership to rollback its earlier decision to take part in the first ever military exercise at the regional grouping level initiated by India."

Kundan Aryal, press advisor to PM Oli told the Post “The government directed the NA not to participate in the drill.”

The report continued to say that the decision to participate in the event was a part of military dealings among the armies and that no formal agreement had been made at the diplomatic or political level.

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“There is no point in our Army Chief participating in the exercise which our government hasn’t approved,” Minister for Law and Justice Bhanu Bhakta Dahal told the Post.

The 2-day 4th BIMSTEC Summit concluded on August 31 in Nepal with the signing of an 18 point Kathmandu Declaration. The theme of the Summit was "Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region".

BIMSTEC was established on June 6, 1997, through the Bangkok Declaration, and represents 1.5 billion people, accounting for 21 per cent of the world's population, and has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. However, only 3 BIMSTEC Summits have been held so far in its 21 year existence, namely in 2004, 2008 and 2014.