Saturday, April 21, 2018

Nepal keen to enhance connectivity with China under BRI : Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that he has requested China to construct the cross-border railway between the two neighbors under a grant.
Speaking at the airport, after returning home today wrapping up his five-day official visit to China, he said that Nepal has requested – during the bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi – the China to build the cross-border railway under the grant aid as a symbol of bilateral relations between the two neighbours. "Developing cross-border railways between Nepal and China is a priority for Nepal government," he added.
However, Nepal is open for discussion about possible investment model, he said, adding that there could be several investment models for the implementation of projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), apart from enhancing cross-border connectivity.
The Nepal-China cross border railway line – from Kerung on China-Nepal border to Kathmandu and to Pokhara and Lumbini on Nepal-India border – is estimated to cost up to $8 billion.
Both sides have reached an understanding to conduct a feasibility study and preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Nepal-China cross border Railway line at the earliest. The agreement has been made 'for attaining common prosperity by incorporating areas such as railway line, trading port, air transport, electricity and communication', according to the press communique issued by the Foreign Ministry.
Gyawali also said that both Kathmandu and Beijing have agreed to implement all the past agreements – including the agreements by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in 2016 and by the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamala Dahal in 2017 – signed between Nepal and China.
The Transit and Transport Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on launching a joint feasibility study for a Nepal-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are the key documents signed during Oli visit. Likewise, the Dahal-led government had signed a MoU on cooperation on the BRI.
Introduced by China in 2013, the BRI refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting countries along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
He also said that both sides have shared common views on developing a Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Transport Network to develop dry ports, railways, roads, air connectivity, cross-border electricity transmission and information technology for better connectivity between the two neighbours and ensuring sustainable common development.
Apart from meeting his counterpart Wang, Gyawali had also called on Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan.
During his visit to China, Gyawali had also held meetings with provincial leaders in Chengdu and delivered a speech at a programme held in his honour at Sichuwan University before his arrival back home today.
Delivering a lecture on Nepal-China Relations and Development Projects in the Trans-Himalayan Region at Sichuwan University in Chengdu, Gyawali appreciated China’s efforts at forging co-operative links between the countries in the region and beyond under the framework of BRI, reads the Foreign Ministry statement.
"Chinese investors may utilise the investment opportunities in Nepal for mutual benefits,” he said, assuring that Nepal government is fully committed to providing security to Chinese investors.

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