China to sign new economic agreement with Nepal

December 1st, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 1 (IANS) Close on the heels of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Nepal, China is sending its Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to Kathmandu Tuesday to bolster ties by signing a new agreement.During his three-day visit, the Chinese minister will pay a courtesy call on Nepal republic’s first President Ram Baran Yadav and hold formal talks with the nation’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as well as Nepali foreign minister Upendra Yadav.

Nepal’s foreign ministry said the two neighbours will also sign an economic and technical cooperation agreement, the details of which would be disclosed after the signing Wednesday.

Also likely are meetings with Nepal’s major political parties, including the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, the second biggest party in Prachanda’s coalition government, and the newly elected constituent assembly members.

Yang’s visit comes just five days after the Indian external affairs minister exited Nepal after “fruitful talks” with the government.

China is building a civil servants’ hospital for Nepal and has promised to build an Ayurvedic hospital-cum-research centre. Beijing has also pledged assistance to build infrastructure in Nepal, including roads, and is considering the possibility of extending its Tibet railway to the Nepal border.

Soon after coming to power, the Nepali premier as well as his defence and information and communications ministers visited Beijing, which resulted in China offering both civil and military assistance.

Yang’s visit is also intended to extract from the Nepal government further commitment not to allow Tibetans to protest against Beijing on Nepali soil.

Since the Maoist government came to power in August, the continuous protests by Tibetans that began in March, have died down completely with Nepal beginning to scan the travel documents of Tibetans caught protesting and asking the UN agency for refugees to send back those without valid papers to the places they came from.

Though Beijing had allied with the anti-Maoist royal regime in the past and armed King Gyanendra’s government to fight the communist insurgency, the Prachanda government does not hold it against the big neighbour and is endeavouring to improve Sino-Nepal ties.

India says it is not worried by the growing proximity between the two.

Getting close to a friend does not necessarily mean it has to be at the expense of another, Indian External Affairs Minister Mukherjee said while winding up his Nepal visit last week.

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