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SOURCE: PTI

The 16th edition of “Surya Kiran,” the joint military training exercise between India and Nepal, aimed at enhancing interoperability in jungle warfare, counter terrorism operations and bolstering bilateral ties between the two countries concluded here on Thursday.

As many as 334 military personnel from both sides participated in this two-week long exercise that began on December 16. The event was organised at Nepal Army Battle School at Saljhandi in Rupandehi district near the Nepal-India border.

The annual event is conducted to enhance interoperability in jungle warfare and counter terrorism operations in the mountainous terrain and HADR under UN mandate. The Nepalese team was led by Col. Bimal Kumar Wagley, while Col. Himanshu Bahuguna headed the Indian regiment, according to a statement issued by Nepal Army on Thursday.

The joint training programme is instrumental in strengthening bilateral friendly relations and mutual cooperation between the two countries, as well as in helping develop basic military skill, it said.

The 15th edition of the joint exercise was held in Pithoragarh in which 650 soldiers from both sides participated.

Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande visited Nepal in September.

During the visit, 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.

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.