Kathmandu, April 29
Chinese President Xi Jinping today said he attached great importance to visiting Nepal and would pay the visit at a convenient time.
Xi made the commitment in response to visiting President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s cordial invitation to him to pay a state visit to Nepal during their delegation-level bilateral talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Bhandari is on a nine-day state visit to China at the invitation of Xi.
Although Xi has already visited South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives, he has yet to visit Nepal.
During the talks, Bhandari said as she paid a state visit to the northern neighbour, she remembered her late husband communist leader Madan Bhandari’s China visit in April 1993. In response, Xi said late Bhandari was a great friend of China, according to Nepali officials present in bilateral talks.
The two presidents exchanged views on further strengthening and consolidating ties of co-operative friendship and mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.
Xi conveyed China’s support for the development of infrastructure, including cross-border railways under the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. “Xi said since the pre-feasibility study of the railway had already been completed, the feasibility study should be carried out based on consultations between the two countries,” a high-level government official present in the talks told THT over phone from Beijing.
Xi also assured Bhandari of China’s support in materialising Nepal’s resolve of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali,’ and to make Visit Nepal Year 2020 a success by encouraging more Chinese tourists to visit Nepal.
Following bilateral talks, Bhandari and Xi witnessed signing of seven bilateral agreements, including the protocol to implement the Nepal-China transit transport agreement. The protocol, which will pave the way for implementation of the TTA, allows Nepal to use Shenzen, Lianyungang, Zhanjiang and Tianjin seaports, ending Nepal’s sole dependence on Indian ports for overseas trade. Nepal has also been allowed to use Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse land ports. As per the protocol, Nepali traders will be allowed to use any mode of transport — rail or road — to access seaports for third-country trade.
The two sides also inked Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Standardisation, Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Minutes of Meeting on Strengthening Assistance Cooperation in the Field of Livelihood in the Northern Region of Nepal, Agreement on Preventing Theft, Clandestine Excavation and Illicit Export Import of Cultural Property and Handover Certificate of Grant-Aid for the Repair and Reinforcement Project of the Existing China-aided Projects.
Under the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, China will provide Nepal a grant assistance of RMB 1 billion for the implementation of mutually agreed projects in the fields of livelihood improvement, post-disaster reconstruction and infrastructure, according to a press release issued by the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing. Prior to the talks, Bhandari was accorded a ceremonial welcome with Guard of Honour at the Great Hall of the People.
Bhandari will leave for Tibet Autonomous Region of China tomorrow.
A version of this article appears in print on April 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.