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China asks Nepal to speed up BRI implementation plan

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BEIJING/KATHMANDU: China has urged the new dispensation in Nepal to finalise the implementation plan for its ambitious BRI projects that have struggled to make any headway due to continuous political changes in the Himalayan nation. The strategic partnership between the two countries was discussed during the meeting of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who is on his first visit to China after taking over office, with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Tuesday.
China looks to speed up its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the Himalayan nation what with Nepal witnessing the new political alignment after Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal ‘Prachanda’ formed a government with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), headed by the pro-China leader K P Sharma Oli.
Wang said as a friendly neighbour and strategic partner, China has always placed Nepal in an important direction of its neighbourhood diplomacy.
“China is ready to work with Nepal to promote the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and advance the China-Nepal strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity to a new and higher level,” Wang told Shrestha, an official press release said here.
He said China firmly supports Nepal in safeguarding its national sovereignty, independence, and national dignity and will continue to assist the best of its ability for Nepal’s economic and social development.
In Nepal, the Kathmandu Post reported that during the meeting the two countries reiterated their commitment to “very soon” sign the implementation plan of BRI, which, it said, “will pave the way for working out financing and investment modality of the projects to be executed in Nepal under the initiative.”
“Things remain stuck with China due to our delay in signing the BRI implementation plan. Once Deputy Prime Minister Shrestha returns home, we will further discuss the signing of the plan, the Post quoted a Nepali official.
In recent meetings, Chinese officials and authorities had made it clear that signing the BRI implementation plan is a prerequisite for extending economic cooperation with Nepal as well as executing the projects that China had committed to in the past, the official said.
Nepal and China signed the BRI framework agreement seven years ago, on May 12, 2017, and the Chinese side forwarded the plan’s text at the end of 2019.
After the Nepali side expressed serious reservations about the text, arguing that Nepal is not interested in commercial loans from China, and set several other conditions to accept support under the BRI framework, negotiations over the BRI projects and implementation plan were halted, the Post reported quoting Nepalese Foreign Ministry officials.
Nepal is yet to table the BRI framework agreement signed in 2017 in Parliament, nor has it disclosed the proposed terms and conditions of the BRI implementation plan.
The main opposition Nepali Congress and other parties have asked the government to table the agreement in Parliament and make public the terms and conditions of the BRI implementation plan before signing it, the report said.

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