TT & PTI, Kathmandu, April 16 : Nepal and China today began their first-ever joint military exercise with a special focus on combating terror, amidst Beijing's increasing forays into South Asia causing concern in India.
The 10-day military drill - Sagarmatha Friendship 2017 - that will continue till April 25 is being organised by the two countries as part of their preparedness against terrorism that has posed a serious security threat globally, the Nepalese Army said.
Sagarmatha is the Nepali name of Mt Everest.
A Chinese People's Liberation Army squad has arrived in Kathmandu to participate in the military exercise that will focus on counter-terrorism and disaster response, it said.
The joint training with China marks the Nepalese Army's extension of military diplomacy. The Nepalese Army has long been conducting joint military drills with Indian and American armies.
"A small Chinese troop will be participating in the first-ever drill with an equal number of Nepalese Army personnel," military spokesperson Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat said.
He did not mention the strength of the participating troops. The exercise will take place at the army's Maharajgunj-based Training School.
The Nepal government has said the joint military exercise with China is a step towards preparations against 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 with.
Nepal had proposed joint military exercises during Chinese defence minister General Chang Wanquan's visit to the Himalayan nation on March 24.
Experts believe 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 alleged a shortage in essential supplies from India during the 2015 Madhesi blockade. China at that time had extended support to Nepal.
China also developed close relations with Sri Lanka during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The $1.5 billion Chinese-funded Colombo Port City project had sparked off security concerns in India.
China already has strong ties with Pakistan and the two countries are working closely on developing the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.