Oli arrives in China on five-day visit

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Beijing, June 19 (IANS) Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli arrived in Beijing on on Tuesday on a five-day visit where he is expected to sign a slew of deals including a railway project linking Tibet to Kathmandu.

India will closely watch visit by Oli, who, in his previous tenure, had inched closer to China, which currently is the largest foreign aid donor to the Himalayan nation and has several on-going projects in the country.

Oli was welcomed by Chinese officials at Capital International Airport in Beijing. He was accompanied by his wife Radhika Shakya, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and several high-ranking government officials.

The Nepalese Prime Minister will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday and his counterpart Li Keqiang on Thursday. He will also address the Nepal-China forum of intellectuals and business communities in Beijing.

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This is Oli’s first official visit to China after returning to power in February and second foreign trip after India.

According to the Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) will be reached with the Chinese side on projects including infrastructure development, energy, trade, investment, tourism and others under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The major highlights of the visit will be conducting a survey of Keyrong-Kathmandu railway, opening up of eight more border points of Nepal to use the Tibetan Highway to assist supplies of food and other essentials goods across northern border of the Himalayan nation.

Keyrong is Chinese bordering point in Tibet that China has upgraded as international trading point. Oli will also visit Lhasa in Tibet where he is scheduled to hold meetings with key leaders.

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Several new agreements and understandings related to the Trans Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Transport Network encompassing roads, railway lines, aviation, optical fibre and certain north-south corridors under BRI were likely be signed between the two sides, according to reports.

Nepal is also one of the backers of China’s Belt and Road project, which is sternly opposed by India as its key artery passes through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by New Delhi.

Earlier in an interview to China’s state media in Kathmandu, Oli said Nepal “was fully committed to implementing the MoU on cooperation under the framework of the BRI signed with China two years ago.

During Oli’s first tenure in 2015, Kathmandu’s ties with its conventional ally New Delhi took a beating over the framing of a new constitution, which led to a blockade of the border with India.

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Oli blamed India for the blockade, accusing it of interfering in Nepal’s domestic politics. Since then, he is considered pro-Beijing after he signed a flurry of projects with the country.

–IANS

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