BEIJING, May 15: China has agreed in principle to provide financial support to Nepal for the construction of a cross-border railway link that would link Kerung with Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini, according to Minister for Information, Surendra Kumar Karki.
During a meeting with a Nepali delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on the sidelines of the High Level Dialogue of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Sunday, Chinese Vice-premier Wang Yang said that China will provide financial support for the construction of the cross-border railway link.
“Vice-premier Wang was very positive about our proposal for the construction of a cross-border railway link between Nepal and China via Kerung to Kathmandu and Lumbini. The Chinese side has said that they are ready to provide financial support for the construction of the cross-border railway link,” Minister Karki told Republica.
Karki said that the authorities of both countries will initiate discussion on the matter and sign railway protocols soon. “Both sides have reached an understanding to complete all the necessary preparations like feasibility study to materialize the cross-border link construction and sign railway protocols as soon as possible,” he added.
Karki said the Government of Nepal will play the role of a facilitator to implement the project. A statement issued by the Nepalese Embassy in China also said that the Chinese side has advised that relevant agencies could start discussions on constructing railways in Nepal.
During Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's visit to China in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping had also said that the Chinese government is ready to initiate the construction work of the cross-border railway link between the two neighbors and boost trade and connectivity.
On Sunday, Nepal and China also signed two separate Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on Cross Border Economic Zones, and upgradation of the Rasuwagadhi-Syaprubeshi Road. The Chinese side has agreed to upgrade the single lane Rasuwagadhi-Syapubeshi Road to a two-lane road.
As part of the understandings reached on Cross Border Economic Zone, both countries will work to explore other alternative routes to connect with the railway link and roads of Tibet in China.
According to Minister Karki, Vice-premier Wang appreciated Nepal's recent decision to sign the MoU to be a part of the Belt and Road Initiative and said that the agreement has opened the door for mutual cooperation not only in enhancing physical connectivity but also boosting trade and people-to-people contact between the two countries.
The Chinese side has also agreed to expedite the implementation of all understandings and agreements reached between Nepal and China while KP Sharma Oli was Nepal's Prime Minister. “They have stressed the early finalization of the Protocol to the Transit Transport Agreement signed between the two countries and the Free Trade Agreement,” he added.
Vice-premier Wang reiterated that the Chinese side would take the matter concerning the reopening of the Tatopani border point with priority. The border point was the main trade route between China and Nepal, until the 2015 devastating earthquake.