Nepal Army chief leaves on China visit

Kathmandu, March 27 (IANS) The Nepal Army chief, General Rajendra Chhetri left on a week-long visit of China on Sunday, the day Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli returns from his official tour of the neighbouring country.

This is Chhetri’s second foreign visit since September last year when he was appointed the chief of the army staff.

One of his mandates has been to strengthen military ties with Nepal’s powerful northern neighbour.

China would increase slots of military training for the Nepal Army, said a statement from the Nepal Army.

General Chhetri’s visit to China is taking place exactly two months after his trip to India, where he was conferred with the honorary rank of general of the Indian Army.

According to Nepal Army spokesperson Tara Bahadur Karki, the visit is aimed purely at strengthening the relations between the national defence forces of the two neighbouring countries. No long-term deal is on the cards, he said.

Since the abolition of century-old monarchy in Nepal, China is looking for political stability in Nepal to anchor its relations with its smaller neighbour.

Pro Shree Dhar Khatrai, an expert in international relations, says that China is still seeking a stable political force in Nepal and in that respect it had tried to establish relations with Maoists in the past and with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) later.

Since the abolition of monarchy in Nepal, China has actively started interacting with thearmy, other security agencies, bureaucracy, media, civil society, political parties and parliamentarians.

Chhetri’s predecessor General Gaurav Shumsher Rana had in July 2013 signed a deal with his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui as part of which the northern neighbour provided military equipment worth around 50 million RMB (Rs.821 million) to the Nepal Army.

Two mobile military hospitals were also provided to the Nepal Army.

Karki said the Chinese government has already handed over two hospitals which were used in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in April and May last year.

The Nepal Army has already received various military and medical support worth 50 million RMB (Rs.821 million), said Karki.

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