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Thapa off to China

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015
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Foreign Affairs Minister Thapa and Law Minister Kharel at Kathmandu Airport on Wednesday. Photo: RSS

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Thapa left Kathmandu for Beijing on Wednesday for a week-long official China visit.

Talking to journalists at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Thapa said his visit was ‘regular’ and ‘aimed at strengthening diplomatic ties and bilateral trade between the two countries’. He said he would also meet top Chinese leaders to discuss a deal on commercial import of fuel.

Nepali authorities have been negotiating with Chinese officials to finalise a deal on commercial import of fuel since India began a blockade against the land-locked Himalayan nation in September. Nepal is ready to import 33 per cent of fuel needed for it from China.

But differences between Nepali and Chinese authorities over price and tax have so far delayed the deal. And Nepali authorities say the political leadership must take initiative to persuade the Chinese government to waive or lower tax so that Chinese fuel could be sold in Nepal at affordable prices.

Thapa, accompanied by Law Minister Agni Kharel and top government officials, is visiting China at a time when Nepal’s relations with India have hit the lowest point. Prime Minister KP Oli has publicly admitted that Nepal-India relations have soured.

India did not welcome Nepal’s new constitution promulgated on 20 September and cut off supplies of fuel and other essential commodities to put pressure on the Kathmandu establishment to agree to demands of Madhesi Morcha.

Three months after the blockade began, the Nepal government made a resolution this week to address Madhesi demands for proportional representation and constituency delimitation in proportion to population and resolve dispute over federal boundaries by setting up an all-party committee. The Morcha has rejected the government’s proposal, but India welcomed it by issuing a statement.

However, Nepal-India relations are still far from being normal. And Thapa’s visit has generated a lot of curiosity within the country and India.

But government officials say a trade deal with China is ‘highly unlikely’ during Thapa’s visit. Thapa will just sign an agreement on Chinese assistance worth RMB 900 million, which Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised during the then President Ram Baran Yadav’s Beijing visit early this year.

However, Thapa will most probably hold political talks with either China’s President Xi or Prime Minister Li Kegiang. China has not only welcomed Nepal’s new constitution but also donated 10,000 tonnes of petrol after the Indian blockade.

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One Response to “Thapa off to China”

  1. ravi raj kaur on Says:

    What has all of this to do with dying people in the cold?

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