Nepal PM leaves for China, several accords on cards

Kathmandu, March 20 (IANS) Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on Sunday started a week-long official visit to China.

This is Oli’s maiden official visit to China since assuming the prime minister’s office in October 2015, Xinhua news agency reported. He is accompanied on the visit by his wife Radhika Shakya.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, Minister for Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel, Minister for Commerce Deepak Bohora and Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi are among others in the prime minister’s delegation.

Oli is undertaking the visit at the invitation of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang from March 20 to 27.

Accompanied by four ministers and senior government officials, Oli will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li and other senior Chinese government officials, according to Nepal’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Oli will attend on Monday the welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People and hold bilateral official talks with Premier Li and discuss matters of mutual interest and common concern.

After the official talks, the two leaders will witness the signing ceremony of bilateral agreements and Memorandum of Understandings to be concluded between Nepal and China.

The most important agenda of Oli’s visit is to sign transit and transportation agreement with China. With the new agreement, Nepal, as a landlocked country, will have sea access to a Chinese port that will lessen its dependency on India for trade with a third country.

Nepal is heavily dependent with only one port — Kolkata — for its third-country trade and recently floated the idea of reaching to sea through China after Nepal suffered blockage on Nepal-India border by its Madhesi protestors over the country’s new constitution.

With the new transit and transportation accord, India’s monoply in providing sea port facilities to Nepal will end and the Himalayan republic can use sea route in China for third-country business.

Another agreement is about linking Chinese rail to Nepali border and later on to Kathmandu and probably extend it up to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.

China and Nepal will sign an agreement in this regard where the Chinese side will agree to prepare the detailed feasibility study of the rail project.

Agreements on $216 million for constructing regional airport in Pokhara, opening up more trade routes between Nepal and China, Free Trade Agreement, protection of patent rights, cross-border transmission line and on many other iksues will be signed, according to the ministry.

Oli is also scheduled to address the scholars, academics, business people and students at Renmin University on the Nepal-China relations in the context of ‘Belt and Road Initiatives’.

He will also witness the signing of an MOU on granting Nepal the status of dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and address the Chinese and Nepalese business communities at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

Oli is scheduled to address the Boao Forum for Asia on the theme “Asia’s New Furure: New Dynamics, New Vision” at Boao, Hinnan province of China, on March 24.

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