Nepal, China hope to sign new peace pact this year

February 26th, 2009 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 26 (IANS) While seeking to scrap a controversial peace and friendship treaty it signed with its southern neighbour India almost six decades ago, Nepal’s ruling Maoist party is now planning to ink a new peace and friendship pact with its other giant neighbour China.

Beijing has sent a 14-member delegation to Nepal, headed by Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, to propose the new pact to Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the details of which are to be discussed during Prachanda’s upcoming visit to China.

Hu met Prachanda Thursday, proposing a new Peace and Friendship Treaty between the two neighbours, Prachanda’s media adviser Om Sharma said.

“China says it will not take up arms against Nepal and will respect Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Sharma told IANS.

“The PM has assured the Chinese envoy that Nepal respects the One China policy of Beijing and regards Tibet as an inalienable and integral part of China. He has pledged that Nepal will not let its soil to be used for any anti-China activities.”

The media adviser said that the Nepali PM will visit Beijing either in the second week of April or early May, during which details of the new treaty will be discussed.

It will be Prachanda’s second visit to China since assuming office as the first Maoist premier of Nepal in August.

Last year, Prachanda broke away from the tradition that in the past had seen Nepal’s prime ministers make India their first port of call after assuming office. Instead, he went to Beijing, ostensibly to attend the concluding ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games hosted by Beijing.

Now besides that implied snub, New Delhi will also have to contend with the prospect of growing ties between Beijing and Kathmandu with the signing of the new pact while the Maoists want to end the Peace and Friendship Treaty signed with India in 1950.

However, India says it is not in a race with China over Nepal.

Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon, who visited Nepal this month, said that New Delhi was ready to review the 1950 treaty whenever Nepal wanted.

He also emphasised that Nepal was a sovereign country and free to develop ties with any other country it chose.

The Chinese government has stepped up overtures to Nepal on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule March 10.

Last year, the commemoration of the failed uprising saw widespread violence in Tibet, that is now a part of the Chinese republic, and dogged public demonstrations by Tibetans in Kathmandu.

At least three Chinese delegations have visited Nepal within the last 30 days, seeking assurance from the Maoist government that the protests will not resurrect this time.

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