World

KATHMANDU – Nepal and China on Sunday began their first-ever joint military exercise with a special focus on combating terror, making rival India uneasy.

The 10-day-long military drill “Sagarmatha Friendship 2017” that will last till April 25 is being organised by the two countries as part of their preparedness against terrorism that has posed as a serious security threat globally, the Nepal army said.

Sagarmatha is the Nepali name of Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s squad has already arrived in capital Kathmandu to participate in the military exercise that will focus on counter terrorism and disaster response.

“A small Chinese troop will be participating in the first ever drill with an equal number of Nepali army personnel,” said military spokesman Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat.

The joint training with China marks Nepal army’s extension of military diplomacy. The Nepal army has long been conducting joint military drills with Indian and American armies.

The exercise will take place at the army’s Maharajgunj-based Training School, where Yuddha Bhairab, Mahabir and Bhairabnath Battalions are located.

The Nepali army has said the joint military exercise with China is a step towards preparations against the possible threat from terrorism.

It maintains that the drill is a part of its regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises aimed at sharing experiences, skills and professional knowledge which it has been doing regularly with the nations that Nepal shares diplomatic ties.

Experts believe that the joint military exercise could make India uneasy as China attempts to exert influence in the region. Nepal, a landlocked country, is dependent on India for its imports.

Nepal had witnessed a shortage in essential supplies from India during the 2015 Madhesi blockade. China at that time had extended its help to Nepal to ease the situation.