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Indian Army Chief concludes Nepal visit

KATHMANDU (PTI): Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Thursday concluded a successful and productive five-day visit to Nepal on the invitation of the Nepali Army.

General Pande on Wednesday visited the Indian Pension Paying Office at Pokhara, where he addressed a Gorkha ex-serviceman of the Indian Army and felicitated Gallantry Awardees.

His wife Archana Pande also felicitated the Veer Naris present on the occasion.

General Pande lauded the bravery of the Gorkha soldiers and saluted their courage and dedicated service. Earlier in the day, Gen. Pande also visited Nepali Army Mid Command headquarters at Pokhara and interacted with the staff there.

The Chief of Army Staff also handed over three ambulances (Mobile Medical Units) to the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) polyclinics in Nepal, according to a statement by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

The ambulances would be able to provide doorstep healthcare services to more than three lakh Indian Army veterans and their families in Nepal and would be especially beneficial for those residing in remote areas of the Himalayan nation.

Earlier on Monday, General Pande was conferred with the honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Apart from meeting his counterpart General Prabhu Ram Sharma, the Chief of Army Staff of the Nepali Army, General Pande also called on Nepali Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

"General Sharma and General Pande also held a discussion on issues of mutual security concerns during the meeting," a Nepal Army press release said.

It added that both the Generals "alluded to the traditional bond of friendship between the two armies and agreed in further strengthening the relationship".

General Pande also addressed student officers at the Army Command and Staff College.

As part of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, General Pande presented training equipment, including simulators and light vehicles, to the Nepali Army.

General Pande, who had arrived in Kathmandu on September 4 at the official invitation of General Sharma, on Thursday returned home after concluding the five-day successful visit, the Nepal Army statement said.

His visit took place at a time when there is concern in Kathmandu over the issue of induction of Gorkhas from Nepal into the Indian Army under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme. Nepal has reportedly conveyed to India that the recruitment under the new scheme does not conform to existing provisions for it.

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.

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