Dis­pute flares over road to Ti­bet

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Ashok Sharma Ashok Sharma is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

NEW DELHI — A long­run­ning ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute be­tween In­dia and Nepal has flared over a new In­dian­built road to a revered Hindu pil­grim­age site in Ti­bet that Nepal says passes through its ter­ri­tory.

In­dia has is­sued a strongly worded state­ment in which it ob­jected to a new map is­sued by the Nepalese govern­ment show­ing the dis­puted ar­eas as part of Nepal.

“This uni­lat­eral act is not based on his­tor­i­cal facts and ev­i­dence,” In­dia said in the state­ment late Wed­nes­day. “It is con­trary to the bi­lat­eral un­der­stand­ing to re­solve the out­stand­ing bound­ary is­sues through diplo­matic di­a­logue. Such ar­ti­fi­cial en­large­ment of ter­ri­to­rial claims will not be ac­cepted by In­dia.”

Last week, In­dian De­fense Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh in­au­gu­rated the 50­mile road, which is the short­est route from New Delhi to Kailash-Mansarovar, a sa­cred area in Ti­bet. It cuts through the Lipu Lekh Hi­malayan pass, a po­ten­tial trade route be­tween In­dia and China.

Nepal has fiercely con­tested In­dia’s claim to the ter­ri­tory, which In­dian maps show is part of its state of Ut­tarak­hand, since the early 19th cen­tury be­cause of its po­ten­tial as an eco­nomic cor­ri­dor. Nepal says the new road passes through its ter­ri­tory and views its con­struc­tion as an ex­am­ple of bul­ly­ing by its much larger neigh­bor.

The dis­pute fig­ured in Nepal’s par­lia­ment on Tues­day, with Prime Min­is­ter Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as­sert­ing that the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries be­long to Nepal.

“We will get them back,” he said.

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