Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets Nepal's Top Leadership As Two Sides Ink 9 MoUs

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets Nepal's Top Leadership As Two Sides Ink 9 MoUs

by PTI - Mar 27, 2022 10:31 AM +05:30 IST
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets Nepal's Top Leadership As Two Sides Ink 9 MoUsWang Yi

Kathmandu, Mar 26 (PTI) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday held talks with Nepal’s top leadership here and discussed bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, as the two countries inked nine agreements, including one on the technical assistance scheme for the China-aided feasibility study of the cross-border railway.

Wang, who holds the rank of a State Councillor -- a high ranking position in the executive organ of the Chinese government, called on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the Prime Minister's official residence at Baluwatar here and the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, officials said.

This is the first visit of a high-ranking Chinese official to Nepal since Nepali Congress President Deuba became the Prime Minister in July last year for a record fifth time.

Before meeting the prime minister, Wang held one-on-one talks with his Nepalese counterpart Narayan Khadka which was followed by delegation-level talks at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers in Singha Durbar.

While Khadka led a 25-member delegation from Nepal's side, Wang led a 17-member Chinese delegation.

During their one-on-one meeting, Khadka and Wang focused on bilateral relations, their mutual welfare and concerns as well as other issues at the national, regional and international level, officials here said.

The Nepal Foreign Ministry in a statement said during the meeting, the ministers discussed all important aspects of Nepal-China relations and cooperation.

'They underscored the importance of the exchange of high-level visits on a regular basis in order to strengthen mutual trust and confidence and to further consolidate Nepal-China relations,' it said.

Khadka reiterated Nepal’s commitment to 'One China' policy and not to allow any activity against China in Nepali territory. Both sides reaffirmed their support for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national independence of each other, the statement said.

After their talks, the two sides signed nine MoUs related to various projects, including one on the cross-border railway, which is an important component of the Trans-Himalayan Multi dimensional connectivity network between Nepal and China.

The cross-border railway was incorporated into China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the second Belt and Road Forum for international cooperation in April 2019.

One of the agreements is on economic and technical cooperation. Under the economic and technical cooperation, China will increase its annual assistance to Nepal from Rs 13 billion to Rs 15 billion and will finance some projects that will be mutually agreed upon between the two sides.

Another agreement is on cooperation on the feasibility study of China-Nepal Power Grid interconnection where China will finance the new alignment of the Ratamate-Rasuwagadhi- Kerung transmission line.

Both sides also signed a protocol on the safety and health conditions of haylage export from Nepal to China. Another agreement is about providing 98 per cent duty free treatment to imported goods in China. Another agreement is about the Covid vaccine assistance to Nepal. China will donate an additional 4 million doses of Sinovac to Nepal.

An agreement was also inked to send a Chinese medical team to work in Nepal's B P Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, the foreign ministry statement said.

Khadka also drew Wang's attention to Nepal's blocked transits with China, which is having a negative impact on the country's economy, officials said.

Nepal-China border at Tatopani, 120 km east of Kathmandu, has been blocked for several months due to various reasons, including coronavirus travel restrictions, which is causing difficulties for Nepalese traders to conduct cross border business.

During their talks, Khadka and Wang underscored the need for concerted efforts from both sides to expedite the execution of ongoing projects as well as to implement the agreements and understandings reached between the two countries during high-level visits, the statement said.

Wang assured that China will be providing development assistance committed to Nepal by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Nepal in October 2019, it said.

The two foreign ministers stressed the need to have continued partnership in order to overcome the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and to focus on COVID-19 response and recovery, the statement said.

During the talks, both sides also focused on issues relating to trade, investment and tourism.

'They underscored the need to fully operationalise the Tatopani/Zhangmu and Rasuwagadi/Kerung border ports for two-way movement of goods between Nepal and China. The two ministers have instructed their relevant authorities to work together to this end.

'With a view to promoting tourism and people-to-people contacts between the two countries, the two foreign ministers agreed to resume, at an early date, the passenger air services suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic,' the statement said.

Wang and Khadka agreed to carry out joint inspection of Nepal-China boundary through mutual consultation.

Wang is scheduled to call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Sunday before wrapping up his three-day visit to Nepal.

Wang, who arrived here from New Delhi, started his trip from Pakistan, followed by unannounced visits to Afghanistan and India.

The visit of China's top diplomat is seen with much interest as it takes place shortly after the parliamentary ratification of USD 500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact Agreement - a US-funded grant agreement. Sources said China did not want Nepal to ratify the MCC compact agreement.

Under the MCC programme, the US government will provide the grant assistance which will be mainly utilised on strengthening Nepal's transmission line and also improve the country's road networks.

Nepal’s Leftist political parties opposed the pact, saying it was not in national interest and that it was meant for countering China.

Prime Minister Deuba in December underlined the need to ratify the grant assistance from the US under the MCC by forging consensus among all political parties, asserting that the programme is not against the national interest.

Earlier on Saturday, Deuba witnessed the virtual completion ceremony of the Pokhara Regional International Airport, the second international airport of Nepal. The airport was built under China's financial assistance (soft loan), according to officials.

Wang handed over the symbolic key of the airport to Foreign Minister Khadka.

In the evening, Khadka hosted dinner in honour of Wang and the visiting Chinese delegation.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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