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PM Oli calls China-Tibet-Nepal railway deal historic

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy: REUTERS)
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy: REUTERS)

(TibetanReview.net, Jun26, 2018) – Although the broad contour of a timeline for building the proposed Tibet-Nepal Railway line has been worked out during the just concluded six-day visit to China and Tibet by Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, the exact schedule and funding still appear to have remained to be determined, according to the latest reports from Nepal. Oli has said the achievements of his visit had exceeded his objectives, referring especially to the proposed Kerung-Rasuwagadi-Kathmandu railway and calling it the most important understanding in the history of bilateral assistance.

During the visit, Nepal and China signed 14 bilateral agreements, MoUs and Letters of Exchange, including the MoU on Cooperation in Railway Projects and Protocol to the Unitisation of Highways in Tibet and Nepal for Cargo Transport, reported thehimalayantimes.com Jun 24.

An IANS report Jun 22 said China will bear the cost of the 121.480 km Kerung-Kathmandu project. However, thehimalayantimes.com report cited Oli as saying whoever had money would invest, adding that the funding aspect would be known only after completing viability and feasibility studies.

On the railway cooperation itself, Oli has said pre-feasibility study of the Kerung-Rasuwagadi-Kathmandu railway would be over soon and other processes would move ahead. The Nepalese Prime Minister has added, however, that the terrain on the Nepali side was more difficult than on the Tibetan plateau; that, hence, necessary studies would take some time.

Indicating that China’s railway network through Tibet may not be coming to Nepal all that soon, Oli has said, “This is also an experiment in development of new technology in railway connectivity, construction and service operation. So we need to work with maturity rather than haste.”

But he has also said, “Chinese President Xi Jinping shared his vision of taking Chinese railway to Nepal during talks. This was included in the joint statement. So this will happen sooner than later.”

China’s official globaltimes.cn said Jun 22 that the joint construction by China and Nepal of a cross-border railway connecting the Tibet Autonomous Region with Kathmandu was vital to Tibet’s development and stability, citing Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of International Relations.

Indicating high importance to connecting Nepal to China through the railway network through Tibet, the report cited an unnamed involved Lhasa official as saying the Guangdong-Tibet-Central South Asia freight train was launched with linking China and Nepal in mind.

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