China eager to bring train service to Lumbini
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 29, 2011
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayankaji Shrestha is back after wrapping up his week-long visit to China in the wake of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao´s impending visit to Nepal in mid-December. OurSpecial Correspondent Purna Basnet met Shrestha in Hong Kong on his way back to Kathmandu. Excerpts:
How did your first China visit as a foreign minister go?
After becoming foreign minister, I have been to UN General Assembly, India and SAARC summit under the leadership of prime minister. This is the first formal foreign visit under my leadership and it has been very fruitful. We held cordial discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations and I am confident that we will see positive results soon.
What would such positive results be?
Nepal-China friendship should not be seen as just another neighborly relation. It holds great significance. We could convince China to expand financial help to Nepal which was one of the two major agendas of my visit. China is likely to announce an increment in its annual grant to Nepal during the Chinese premier´s visit in December. We have also sought a one-time special grant at a time when we are approaching the final stage of the peace process and constitution drafting.
Did you have any discussion on reducing the massive trade deficit with China?
We had serious discussion on increasing bilateral trade and reducing the trade deficit. We have not been able to capitalize on the duty waiver offered by China on export of around 400 goods. Therefore, this time we urged China to provide waiver on those goods that we can export. They have asked us to provide a list of such items.
How keen are the Chinese investing in Nepal?
We have reached agreements on investing Chinese grant on building north-south roads, especially the Kimathangka-Biratnagar, Hilsa-Simikot and Jomsom-Beni roads. Similarly we have agreed to conduct a survey for the rail link between Kathmandu and Tatopani via Kerung. China has agreed to give priority to the rail link.
Is China interested in building railway to connect to Lumbini?
China has expressed willingness to expand railway up to Lumbini but we have stressed that Kathmandu should be linked with railway first. But we have agreed to begin the survey involving technical specialists from both the countries.
Similarly China has agreed to provide grant for a polytechnic institute, at least one special economic zone and a hospital.
Has China showed interest in hydroelectricity sector?
China has agreed to provide soft loan for hydro power sector. We have discussed especially about West Seti, Budi Gandaki and Nursinggad projects. China has also agreed to invest in promoting Nepal´s tourism sector.