June 19 proposed for PM Oli’s China visit

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

May 21, 2018-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is likely to embark on a five-day state visit to China beginning June 19—his second foreign visit since assuming office on February 15.

Top officials at the Foreign Ministry told the Post that the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on May 17 had formally proposed the PM’s visit to the northern neighbour and both sides subsequently agreed that June 19 would be an appropriate time for PM Oli to go on the visit.

Apart from Beijing, the Chinese side has proposed that PM Oli visit Sichuan Province as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong recently toured Tibet in connection with the visit. She had a meeting with Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi in Kathmandu last week to discuss the itinerary and agenda of the visit.

In the event of unavoidable circumstances on either side, the dates could be changed slightly, said sources. Most likely, the PM will have busy schedules on June 20 and 21, when he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and the government. Preparations are underway for some agreements and memoranda of understanding that will be signed during the visit.

“I am visiting China after one month,” PM Oli told the Parliamentary Party meeting of the newly formed Nepal Communist Party on Saturday.

Though the date and itinerary of the visit are yet to be disclosed, both sides have already started groundwork for the visit.

The visit comes on the heels of an exchange of visits between the prime ministers of Nepal and India and is keenly watched in Kathmandu for its outcome. Oli maintains that his government will pursue a balanced and independent foreign policy as well as a good neighbourhood policy.

Oli signed the landmark Transit and Transport Agreement in his previous visit to China, aiming to end India’s monopoly over Nepal’s third-country trade. A protocol for the deal is due to be signed this time. Besides, some agreements and MoUs will be singed for projects to be undertaken under the Belt and Road Initiative of China even as the project selection is going on.

“At this point of time I cannot disclose the date but can say that our preparation is going on for around June 19,” said Kundan Aryal, press adviser to PM Oli.

Though preparations on the Nepal side have been affected by the drafting of the budget for the new fiscal year, officials are working to give finishing touches to the Transit Transport Protocol.

To lay the ground for the visit, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali paid an official visit to China last month and held talks with senior Chinese officials on expediting China-funded projects in Nepal and exploring other areas of cooperation.

After returning from China on April 23, Foreign Minister Gyawali held a cross-ministerial meeting and took decisions to expedite various Nepal-China pending projects. Though several agendas are on the cards, the Nepali side is preparing to sign an MoU on Launching Joint Feasibility Study of Nepal China Free Trade Agreement. Another MoU will be signed to set up a joint coordination and implementation mechanism to monitor China-funded projects in Nepal. It will be led by the joint-secretary in charge of the North and East Division of the Foreign Ministry that looks after China affairs.

Officials have expedited preparations for signing an agreement on Building Oil Storage Facilities in Nepal with Chinese investment. Some plots of land have been identified by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies for the purpose.

More than three dozen big and small pacts and understandings were signed during Oli’s visit to China in 2016. Since the status of their implementation is poor, some concrete project proposals will be agreed to during the visit, said sources.

Published: 21-05-2018 08:11

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