KATHMANDU, April 19: After prolonged indecision and uncertainty, Nepal has started showing initiative for the implementation of various key agreements including a cross-country railway link that were reached with China during K P Sharma Oli's previous stint as prime minister.
At a bilateral meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday morning, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali held discussions with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the early conduct of a feasibility study and preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Nepal-China Cross Border Railway line. The line is to stretch from Keyrong to Kathandu and from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Lumbini.
Addressing a joint press conference held after the bilateral meeting, Minister Gyawali said they held a comprehensive review of the progress made in implementing various other agreements reached during recent high-level visits including the visit of Prime Minister Oli to China in March 2016.
The Transit and Transport Agreement and the MoU on launching a joint feasibility study for a Nepal-China Free Trade Agreement are the key documents signed during the Oli visit. Foreign Minister Gyawali said they exchanged views on the draft protocol for the transit and transport agreement and agreed to step up negotiations for its early finalization.
The two foreign ministers also held discussions about implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoU) under the Belt and Road Initiative. “Nepal has expectations that the Initiative should contribute to the development of physical infrastructure, enhancing of cross-border connectivity including by rail and road, promotion of trade, tourism and investment, and people to people relations. We shared common views on the development of a cross-border multi-dimensional transportation network,” Gyawali further said.
On the occasion, Gyawali thanked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang for China's support for reconstruction projects including the Araniko Highway Repair Project and cross-border bridges at Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi. The Nepali side also stressed the need for early reopening of the Tatopani-Zhaangmu port linked to the Araniko highway and for upgrading existing border entry points.
The two countries agreed in principle to establish a coordination and implementation mechanism for identifying projects of mutual interest and benefit and to facilitate effective implementation of Chinese government-aided projects. They also agreed to make joint efforts for tourism promotion in Nepal, with the Chinese side offering to publicize major tourist destinations in Nepal in major Chinese cities.
Addressing the joint press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang said they agreed to continue deepening mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Nepal. “China will give full support and China will continue to encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Nepal in light of need on the ground to contribute to local development,” Wang said.
Wang said that they agreed to make further progress to develop a cross-border economic cooperation zone, complete feasibility studies for the early start of official negotiations, extend support in efforts to diversify sources of energy and expedite work related to post-earthquake reconstruction . “We have agreed to expedite the process regarding agreements on utilization of existing highways in Tibet for cargo transport for Nepal and transit transportation,” he further said.
Foreign Minister Gyawali, who is currently on a five-day official visit to China starting Tuesday, called on Vice President of the People's Republic of China Wang Qishan at Zhongnanhai on Wednesday. Minister Gyawali is scheduled to speak at a roundtable organized by the China Reform Forum in Beijing and a Nepal Tourism Promotion event in China being organized jointly by the Embassy of Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents on Thursday.
Gyawali is also scheduled to hold meetings with provincial leaders in Chengdu and deliver a speech at a program to be held in his honor at Sichuwan University before his arrival back home on Saturday.