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SOURCE: PTI

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. 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 in Kathmandu on Monday.

There has been a long tradition of exchange of visits by the army chiefs of Nepal and India and to confer the title of honorary General to both the army chiefs.

Nepal’s Army chief Gen Prabhuram Sharma visited India in November last year at the invitation of his Indian counterpart. He was conferred with the honorary General of the Indian Army during the visit.

Gen Pande took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff on April 30 after Gen MM Naravane retired from service.

Gen Pande will call upon Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, 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.