Govt working on talks agenda for PM’s China visit

Published On: May 16, 2018 07:19 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 16: The government has expedited preparations for the visit of Prime Minister KP Oli to China in the third week of June.

Highly-placed government sources said the government is communicating with Chinese side through diplomatic channel to fix a date convenient for both the sides. Preparations are underway to make the prime minister’s visit to China after the annual budget for the new fiscal year is unveiled. 

Addressing the parliament on Sunday, Prime Minister Oli, who has been advocating for independent foreign policy and balanced relations with both India and China, had announced that he intends to visit China soon. Although the prime minister wanted to visit China immediately after his visit to India in April first week, he had put off the visit plan due to impending visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has already begun preparatory works on the talks agenda of the visit. The ministry has been coordinating with various line ministries including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and Ministry of Commerce to finalize the agenda since the past few weeks, officials said.

Officials said the main agenda of this visit will be to expedite implementation of nearly a dozen agreements that Oli during his previous stint as prime minister in 2016 had reached with China. Officials expect to finalize details, project agreements and expedite specific agreements during Oli’s Beijing visit.

In his seven-day visit to China in the wake of India’s unofficial economic embargo, Prime Minister Oli had reached various crucial bilateral agreements including on free trade, transport connectivity, financial cooperation, and transit facilities through China. Two successive governments after Oli had put the implementation of these agreements on the backburner. 

A task force led by senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce has already been formed to finalize the protocol of transit and transport agreement with China. The task force formed after the visit of Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali to China in April third week comprises officials from various line ministries including foreign, physical infrastructure and transport management, law and home affairs.

Besides signing memoranda of understanding on conducting joint feasibility study for the Nepal-China Free Trade Agreement and a separate MoU on forming joint mechanism to oversee implementation of China-funded projects in Nepal, the Nepali side plans to ask China to reopen the Tatopani border.

Officials said some Chinese companies have won contracts to build various projects, but the pace of their implementation has remained slow. Nepal will raise this issue with the Chinese side to expedite implementation of these projects.

Among other things, Nepal has already reached an agreement to be part of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Two sides are expected to hold detailed discussions on various projects under the BRI.

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