KATHMANDU, Dec 29: Brushing aside criticisms that the current government was insensitive toward the concerns of the northern neighbor, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat clarified that the government is fully considerate toward the sensitivities of both India and China.
Organizing a press conference at his office on Wednesday to clarify some of the issues raised by media of late, Minister Mahat said the relations of Nepal with India and China are independent of each other, and there cannot be any comparison in these bilateral relations.
“There are concerns in media that the current government failed to maintain good relations with China. The government is fully aware as to what kind of relations Nepal should maintain with its close neighbors. All our activities are directed at maintaining good relations with both the neighbors,” he said.
Minister Dr Mahat's remarks have come in the wake of media criticizing the government for inviting Chinese leader Liu Qibao and Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil on the same day when the landlocked Mongolia was experiencing Chinese blockade for allowing Tibetan leader Dalai Lama to visit the country.
Minister Mahat said that the visit of Mongolian Foreign Minister Munkh-Orgil was originally set for November 13. The date was fixed when the two ministers met in New York in September. It was later postponed for December. In the meantime, the MoFA had received request for the visit of Chinese leader Liu Qibao on December 9 and subsequently gave its consent.
Minister Mahat said as the Chinese leader Liu scheduled his visit to Kathmandu almost at the same time to attend the prescheduled Seventh China Cultural Festival, the MoFA considered that it was not diplomatically correct to put off the visit of Mongolian Foreign Minister almost at the eleventh hour. The government accorded high importance and priority to both the visitors, giving them appropriate hospitality.
“We knew the visit of Chinese senior leader Liu only a week before his visit, while the visit of Mongolian Foreign Minister was already scheduled. The visit of both the leaders on the same day was just a coincidence. This was not intentional,” he argued, while refuting media suggestion that the government had deliberately invited both the leaders.
On the issue concerning Mongolia's plan to build a monastery in Lumbini, Minister Mahat said that Mongolia as a Buddhist nation was allowed to purchase land in the birth place of Gautam Buddha long ago, and that it was building monastery in the same land now.
“Nepal attaches high importance to her relation with China. The erstwhile government had reached several agreements in principle with China. The current government is working to implement those deals,” he further said.
On the occasion, Minister Mahat also expressed confidence that the Chinese president would visit Nepal soon. “We have already renewed our invitation to the Chinese president. We are currently working on holding foreign secretary-level talks between Nepal and China. This will definitely prepare ground works for the visit of the Chinese president,” he added.