NEW DELHI: President Xi Jinping of China will visit Nepal this year to strengthen bilateral ties, a top Chinese official said during a meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” on Tuesday.
Prachanda said Nepal is eager to welcome the Chinese president at the earliest, according to a statement issued the prime minister’s secretariat. Nepal, he said, wants a reliable and long-term friendship with China based on mutual benefit.
Nepal also wants trilateral cooperation with India and China, he added.
Ji Zhiye, president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said during the meeting with Prachanda that Xi’s visit will go ahead as planned but did not give any dates. “This year, President Xi will visit Nepal which aims to strengthen bilateral ties,” he said.
There has been confusion in Kathmandu over Xi’s visit following the change of government in Nepal. Prachanda became the premier after his predecessor KP Sharma Oli resigned when a no-confidence motion was moved against him.
The CICIR team’s visit has helped dispel the notion that Xi’s visit will be cancelled or postponed, observers said. The Chinese experts told Nepali leaders that Xi’s visit will certainly go ahead and they were in Kathmandu to look into the preparations for it.
Reports have suggested the Chinese President could travel to Nepal in October before or after attending the BRICS Summit to be held in India. Xi is also expected to visit Bangladesh at the same time. BRICS is Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
At a time when pacts and memorandum of understandings signed with China by Oli are being reviewed after the change of government, the Chinese side has been continuously reaching out to Nepal’s political leadership to push ahead with the agreements related to transit, trade, energy, connectivity, a rail link and infrastructure projects.
A five-member team from CICIR, an influential think tank under China’s State Council, arrived in Kathmandu on Monday via India.
Apart from Prachanda, the Chinese team also held talks with former premiers Oli and Sher Bahadur Deuba. They also told a gathering in Kathmandu that China wants to see good relations between Nepal and India.