Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Nepal inks rail and tunnel deals during Xi visit

Reuters, KATHMANDU

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli yesterday shake hands in at a signing ceremony in Kathmandu.

Photo: AP / Dware/ The Rising Nepal

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday wound up two days of meetings in Nepal with separate deals for a rail link to Tibet and a tunnel, an official said, as the Himalayan nation seeks to end an Indian dominance over its trade routes by increasing connectivity with Beijing.

The 70km rail link would connect Gyiron in Tibet with Kathmandu.

A Chinese team has already conducted a preliminary study for the project, which would be part of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Alongside, a proposed 28km road tunnel would more than halve the distance from Kathmandu to the Chinese border, saving on time and cost.

“China will now conduct a feasibility study of the rail project and help construct the tunnel way,” Nepalese Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport spokesman Rajeshor Gyawali said.

Nepal has sought to increase connectivity with China since a blockade along its border with India resulted in several months of acute shortage of fuel and medicine in 2015 and 2016. India accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nepal’s trade and is the sole supplier of fuel.

“These facilities will give us alternative trade routes when we face border blockades,” Gyawali said.

Officials from both sides also signed 20 deals covering trade, water supply and traditional medicines yesterday the end of Xi’s visit, the first by a Chinese president in 22 years.

“We will help Nepal realize its dream of becoming a land-linked country from a land-locked one,” Xi said at a dinner on Saturday after he arrived from India.

Xi yesterday told Oli that those attempting to split China would be crushed, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nepal firmly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and would not allow its territory to be used for separatist activities against China, Xinhua cited Oli as saying.

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