Donors’ conference sans top leaders

KATHMANDU: It has now become certain that Indian and Chinese prime ministers are not attending the upcoming International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction, in Kathmandu, slated for June 25.

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The government had invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the day-long symposium, aimed at garnering funds for post-earthquake reconstruction and recovery under the theme “Towards a Resilient Nepal”. Director General of Information Department Laxmi Bilash Koirala, in a press-interaction said chances of participation of the Indian and Chinese heads of government are slim due to their conflict of schedules.

Both countries have communicated to Nepali authorities about their heads of government’s inability to attend the conference, but assured that senior-level delegates will take part instead, officials said.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Ministry of Finance (MoF), which are coordinating the conference, said External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj and a Vice-commerce minister of China are likely participants.

Nevertheless, both neighbours are yet to confirm officially about who will be leading their respective delegations, said MoF Spokesperson Ram Sharan Pudasaini.

According to him, at least 45 countries and multilateral agencies have confirmed their participation.

Nepal has invited at least 41 countries, including seven SAARC member-states, 22 multi-lateral and donor agencies such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations, European Union; and three public figures — former US President Jimmy Carter, British Actress Joanna Lumley and Hollywood actor Leonardo Di Caprio.

These public figures have not confirmed their attendance so far, officials said. The government expects some 250 foreign delegates in the conference to be held at Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza.

European Union today announced its Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica will attend the conference aimed to raise funds for post-disaster reconstruction and recovery efforts.

“Commissioner Mimica is expected to express the EU’s solidarity with the people of Nepal and will announce a significant contribution to support the country’s reconstruction efforts in view of the devastating earthquake,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, Japan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama, Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Minister Abdul Fowzie and Bhutan’s Finance Minister Namgay Dorji have already confirmed their participation, Pudasaini said.

Likewise, World Bank’s Vice President for South Asia Annette Dixon, JICA’s President Akihiko Tanaka, ADB President Takehiko Nakao and UN Under-Secretary General Gyan Chandra Acharya are among other confirmed participants.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will inaugurate the conference and address its opening session, which will be followed by business and assistance pledging sessions.

A sight-seeing programme of Sankhu of Kathmandu has also been scheduled for participating delegates on June 24.