Kathmandu: Indian Army chief Gen Manoj Pande arrived here on Sunday on a five-day official visit during which he will hold extensive talks with the country’s top civil and military leadership and bolster defence ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Nepal’s Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Bal Krishna Karki received Gen Pande at the Tribhuvan International Airport upon his arrival here.
During his visit, Gen Pande will be conferred with the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at a ceremony at Sital Nivas, the official residence of Bhandari on Monday.
There has been a long tradition of exchange of visits by the army chiefs of Nepal and India, and conferring the title of honorary General to both the army chiefs.
The tradition started in 1950. India also confers the honorary rank of ”General of Indian Army” to the Nepal Army Chief.
Gen Pande is also scheduled to visit Nepal Army headquarters where he will pay homage to the fallen soldiers and have interactions with the senior leadership of the force.
Gen Pande took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff on April 30 after Gen MM Naravane retired from service.
He will call on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday, and will also hold wide-ranging talks with his Nepalese counterpart Gen Sharma, apart from meeting with the senior military and civilian leaders of the Himalayan nation.
The issue of induction of Gorkhas from Nepal into the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme is also likely to figure in Gen Pande’s talks in Kathmandu, which reportedly conveyed to New Delhi that the recruitment under the new scheme does not conform to existing provisions for it.
During the visit, he will also hold interaction with the student officers at the Army Command and Staff College, Shivapuri in Kathmandu, and pay a visit to Mid-Command Headquarters, Pokhara.
He will also pay homage at the martyr’s memorial in the Army Pavilion in Kathmandu. He will leave Kathmandu for New Delhi on September 8.
Nepali Army believes the exchange of such high-level visits and continuation of tradition helps in strengthening relations between the two militaries and the two countries,” said a press release issued by Nepal Army on Sunday.
Archana Pande, the chairperson of the Army Wives Welfare Association of the Indian army, is accompanying Gen Pande. Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old ”Roti Beti” relationship.
The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.