Foreign minister heads for China on Monday

  • Projects under Belt and Road Initiative, high-level visits top the agenda
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Apr 14, 2018-

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali is leaving on Monday on an official visit to China, leading a Nepali delegation, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The announcement comes days after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli paid a state visit to India. Minister Gyawali was also a member of the Nepali delegation.

Invited by State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi, Gyawali will communicate during his April 16-21 visit to the top Chinese leadership about the priorities of the Oli-led government, according to the officials. The Nepali delegation would look for more areas of cooperation between the two countries.

In Beijing, Gyawali and top Chinese officials will discuss the status of China-funded projects in Nepal, expedite negotiations for projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and lay the ground for high-level exchanges between Nepal and China in year 2108, said officials.

Beijing has been pushing for early selection of projects under the BRI. It also wants to expedite the agreements and pacts signed during the China visit of PM Oli in 2016. 

Soon after Oli’s visit, the government had formed two panels led by foreign and finance secretaries to select the projects to be recommended to China for the initiative but there has been no substantive progress. The Finance Ministry has selected around two dozen projects but no formal proposal was sent to the Chinese side for its consideration, said officials. 

The protocol for the Agreement on Transit Transportation is yet to be agreed between the two sides. Nepal and China had agreed to finalise the protocol and endorse it within six months of signing the agreement but the tasks remain incomplete two years after the visit.

During the visit, letters were exchanged on project initiation for the feasibility study on Chinese assistance to Nepal for exploration of oil and gas resources but there has been no tangible progress. 

Both sides had also agreed to launch feasibility study of a Nepal-China free trade agreement, cross-border infrastructure and connectivity projects, detailed project report (DPR) and construction of the two-lane Kimathanka-Khandbari-Dhankuta road, and preparation of DPR for the Rashuwagadhi-Kathmandu and Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway projects.

In Beijing, Gyawali, apart from discussing acceleration of the past accords, will communicate with the Chinese leadership about development, infrastructure and investment priorities of the government, said officials. He is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with his Chinese counterpart Wang on Wednesday before jointly addressing the media. The Chinese foreign minister will host a luncheon meeting for the Nepali delegation. Gyawali is also said to be meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang besides addressing a round-table meeting of Chinese think tanks.

Nepal’s Ambassador to China Leelamani Paudyal will host a reception in honour of the foreign minister on Tuesday. In Chengdu of the Sichuan Province, Gyawali will meet with provincial leaders and speak at Sichuan University on Friday.

Published: 14-04-2018 06:28

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