Prachanda to meet Xi on China visit

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Kathmandu, March 22 (IANS) Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ will leave here for China on Thursday to attend the Boao Asia Forum in China’s Hainan province during which he will also meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.

Prachanda will travel to Beijing to meet Xi. This is his first official visit to China after becoming the Prime Minister in August last year.

“The Prime Minister will meet the Chinese President on March 27 (Monday) at the Great Hall of the People where both leaders will discuss matters of mutual interest,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The Chinese side has already communicated that the meeting between Xi and Prachanda will a brief one — no longer than 20 minutes — and Xi had cut short his other engagements to make time for it.

As Prachanda’s visit to Nepal’s northern neighbour will be keenly followed and watched in New Delhi, it is almost official that no accord or understanding will be signed during the visit, announced Prachanda a day ahead of his China visit.

“We are not going to sign any deal in this visit,” said Prachanda at a CPN (Maoist Centre) Central Office meeting.

“My visit will be to lay the ground for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal and the objective of my China visit is focused on bringing him to Nepal,” he said.

Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat also said that Nepal is not going to sign any deal with China but will discuss some crucial bilateral issues.

He said that discussions would take place on matters pertaining to the China-initiated “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) plan and participation of Nepal in China’s flagship foreign policy initiative.

Likewise, issues related to Nepal-China Transit and Transportation Agreement, its protocol and expansion of cross-border transmission line in northern border would be discussed.

On OBOR, the Foreign Minister said Nepal and China have discussed in length about it and its possible advantage to Nepal, but “we cannot agree on free trade with China as Nepali side is still considering its merits and demerits”, he added.

Mahat said Nepal had prepared to sign at least five agreements with China on various issues, but they wouldn’t be signed this time as Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will not be available in Beijing during Prachanda’s visit.

The Nepali side had prepared to sign agreements on cross-border transmission line, and allowing the Chinese companies to conduct detailed project reports of railway projects that will connect Nepal-China border to the southern plains and Pokhara via Kathmandu.

Other agreements related to harnessing Chinese investment in Nepal on various sectors, establishing cross-border economic zone and capability-enhancing the National Planning Commission.

Prachanda will return to Nepal on March 29.

–IANS

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