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Dozen agreements on PM’s China visit agenda

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jun 14, 2018-Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is embarking on a five-day official visit to China on June 19 as Beijing looks to deepening ties with Nepal with deals under its flagship Belt and Road Initiative.

PM Oli, for the first time, is going to discuss projects under the BRI after Nepal became a part of it last year. Kathmandu has already sent a list of projects to Beijing mostly related to road, rail, energy and cross-border power transmission.

The foreign ministries of Nepal and China on Wednesday announced PM Oli’s visit. As of Wednesday, both the sides have agreed to sign at least six pacts while negotiations are going on for five other deals.

This will be the second China visit by PM Oli. In 2016, he signed a landmark Transit and Transport Agreement with China, expected to end Nepal’s longstanding dependence on India for third-country trade. This time around, apart from signing the Protocol to the Transit and Transport Agreement, several other pacts and memoranda of understanding on connectivity, linking China and Kathmandu by rail, energy, tourism, opening more border points with the northern neighbour and construction of petroleum storage facilities, among others, will be signed. In Beijing, Oli is scheduled to hold delegation level talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

There could be more agreements but the details of pacts, understandings and MoUs will be ascertained by Friday, said officials.

China looks forward to using Prime Minister Oli’s visit as an opportunity to deepen its cooperation with Nepal in the Belt and Road framework, strengthen cooperation in politics, economy and trade, infrastructure, post-disaster reconstruction and human resource, and push bilateral relations to a new level, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in Beijing.

Officials expect that one medium-sized hydroelectricity project, to be constructed under the BRI framework, will be announced in Beijing after talks between the two prime ministers. Oli, who is visiting China at the invitation of Premier Li, will also call on Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders of the Chinese Communist party. The two sides are prepared to sign agreements on energy cooperation and construction of two all weather north-south corridors, technical and economic cooperation, and Chinese assistance for human resource development in Nepal that includes training for Nepali students and professionals.

PM Oli, as during his visit two years ago, will be boarding a Himalayan Airlines plane for a direct flight to Beijing. He will return via Tibet on Chinese commercial flights. “This is the first visit of Oli to China after completion of the political transition [in Nepal]. This provides an important opportunity for the leaders of the two countries to further plan” and propel China-Nepal relations to a new height, the Chinese ministry said in a statement.

The entourage includes Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun, Infrastructure Minister Raghubir Mahaseth, PM’s Chief Advisor Bishnu Rimal.

Published: 14-06-2018 07:53

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