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Dahal-Xi meet

Monday, March 27th, 2017
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Pic: www.cmprachanda.com

Chinese President Xi Jinping is ‘happy’ that Nepal has announced local elections, according to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who met him in Beijing on Monday.

Xi also pledged assistance of 9 million RMB (approximately NR 140 million) for local elections, which Nepal is holding on 14 May for the first time since 1997.

Dahal met Xi in the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Monday afternoon, and the two leaders discussed bilateral issues for about half an hour. However, no agreement was signed between Nepal and China.

According to news posted on Dahal’s personal website, Xi expressed concern for political stability in Nepal, eagerly discussed railway and other infrastructure projects and was positive about reopening the Tatopani border, closed after the 2015 earthquake.

Dahal said his meeting with Xi was ‘more fruitful than he expected’. But the outcome of his visit pales in comparison to his predecessor KP Oli’s visit last year.

During Oli’s visit to Beijing, Nepal signed a trade and transit treaty with China – which was dubbed by many as the first step towards reducing the Himalayan nation’s dependence on India.

After Oli’s exit from Singha Darbar, his UML party – now the main opposition – is prodding Dahal to implement the treaty with China. But Dahal faces criticism that his ruling coalition is favoured by New Delhi, and he is unwilling to implement the treaty that would reduce Nepal’s trade dependence on India.

A day before Dahal flew to China, essentially to address the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, Foreign Affairs Minister Prakas Sharan Mahat had ruled out the possibility of a new agreement between Nepal and China.

UML MP Rajan Bhattarai, who was Oli’s foreign affairs adviser, told Nepali Times that Dahal’s Beijing tour was bound to be meaningless as he had not prepared well to discuss bilateral affairs with Xi.

“Dahal should have returned to Nepal after attending the Boao conference,” says Bhattarai. “He could have gone prepared to Beijing another time.”

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