Chinese prez may visit Nepal earlier

Kathmandu, July 9

Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit Nepal earlier than October, highly placed sources informed.

Chinese officials hinted that President Xi could embark on an official Nepal visit rather than making it a stopover in mid-October, when he is scheduled to attend a BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India.

The Chinese president might visit Nepal before October,” a senior foreign ministry official told The Himalayan Times seeking anonymity. “For this, China’s main concern is about any political unpredictability in Nepal within the next few months.”

Officially, the Chinese side has not spelled out any date for President Xi’s prospective visit yet.

Another official, however, stated that the Chinese leader would come for a separate bilateral visit to Nepal only if the scheduled BRICS Summit was postponed. “Otherwise, he will visit Nepal just before or after the BRICS Summit,” the official added.

A meeting of heads of state/government of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as BRICS, is slated for October 15-16 in New Delhi.

In a recent meeting with a Nepali delegation led by Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, the Chinese side is learnt to have shared that the very set date for BRICS Summit could be changed. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bharat Paudyal said though a high level visit from China to Nepal was expected by end of this year, no date was confirmed for the same.

Foreign Secretary Bairagi had held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and called on Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Monday.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Secretary’s visit particularly focused on reviewing the status of implementation of various agreements reached during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visit to China in March.

Sources, however, said the two sides had also exchanged views on prospective Nepal visit of the Chinese leader. Chinese authorities had also inquired about Nepal’s latest political and security issues, it is learnt.

“The Chinese side has dropped hints that there should not be any ‘political volatility’ and the outcome of the visit has to be fully owned by any successive government,” said an official privy to the meeting.

Prime Minister’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal said the Chinese president’s visit was very much on the card, which, according to him, also has been reinforced by the frequent visits by bureaucratic and security officials of China to Nepal.

Meanwhile, a six-member security delegation led by Fu Peng, major general of Border Corps and chief of Public Security Department, Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, arrived in Kathmandu on a four-day official visit today. The team will meet chiefs of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and call on Home Secretary Narayan Gopal Malego.