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Nepal prime minister to sign Tibet railway link agreement with China

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. (Photo courtesy: scroll)
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. (Photo courtesy: scroll)

(TibetanReview.net, Jun19, 2018) – After making constant calls for it over the past several years, Nepal is to take its first concrete step towards bringing the railway line in Chinese ruled Tibet to its capital Kathmandu during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Jun 19-24 visit to China. Several agreements will be signed between the two countries, including one on energy cooperation and the construction of a railway line connecting Tibet’s border town of Kerung (Tibetan: Kyirong) to Kathmandu, reported the PTI news agency Jun 17, citing a senior Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) leader.

The report said a host of projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as China’s plans for an India-Nepal-China economic corridor were expected to be discussed. The visit will further strengthen bilateral ties and promote cooperation between Nepal and China, Ganesh Shah, member of Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) Standing Committee, was cited as saying.

Shah has said that among half a dozen MoUs to be signed between the two countries will be one on constructing a railway line connecting Kerung in Tibet to Kathmandu. He has added that a feasibility study will be conducted for the railway line, to be complete within four years.

Nepal expects to benefit greatly from trade links between the Asian giants India and China by providing transit and related facilities. A railway link to China is also seen as helping Nepal to reduce its reliance on India for essential supplies such as gas and oil and sea port access.

During his earlier brief tenure as prime minister in 2016, Oli had widened China-Nepal ties by signing a transit trade treaty with China to reduce his landlocked country’s dependence on India at the height of the Madhesi agitation when the border with India remained blocked.

Nepal greatly depends on China for grant and assistance for many of its works and projects and regularly reassures Beijing not to allow Tibetans from engaging in any activities deemed to be anti-China.

The report cited Oli, who is also NCP’s Chairman, as having told party Standing Committee that his visit to China, taking place at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqing, will be historic. It will also be the first by Oli since he newly assumed power in February after a landslide electoral victory for his party and its alliance partners.

China is eying an India-Nepal-China economic corridor through the Himalayas, with cooperation from Kathmandu, given India’s antipathy towards its BRI.

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