Nepal joins China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to promote mutually beneficial cooperation

KATHMANDU, May 12 (Nepal Foreign Affairs)–In a milestone development in the Nepal-China bilateral relations, Nepal has joined the China-proposed One Belt One Road Initiative on Friday seeking to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in various fields such as economy, environment, technology and culture.

The new development has come a month after the two Asian nations launched the first ever joint military drill in Kathmandu seeking to elevate their ties towards strategic partnership in near future.

The two countries sealed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative amidst a special Signing Ceremony organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday morning.

Foreign Secretary Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi and Ambassador of China to Nepal Ms. Yu Hong singed the MoU on behalf of their respective governments.

Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also the in-charge of finance, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, high-ranking officials from China and Nepal witnessed the signing ceremony.

The major thrust of the MoU is to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between Nepal and China in various fields such as economy, environment, technology and culture, according to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The MoU aims at promoting cooperation on promoting connectivity of facilities, trade connectivity, financial integration and connectivity of people.

“The MoU seeks to strengthen cooperation in connectivity sectors including transit transport, logistic systems, transport network and related infrastructures development such as railway, road, civil aviation, power grid, information and communication,” the statement added.

Similarly, the MoU also aims to promote people-to-people exchanges of different levels between the two countries. The MoU contains detailed framework for mutual cooperation in line with the MoU signed between the Governments of Nepal and China in December 2014.

The Cabinet meeting last Monday decided to sign the MoU with China to ensure country’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Nepal’s decision to join the Belt and Road Initiative came following rounds of negotiations for months at the diplomatic level between the two countries on jointly promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, officials said.

“We believe that Nepal’s participation in the OBOR will create a win-win situation for both the countries in the field of cross-border road, air and railway connectivity, investment, trade, business, commerce as well as establishing the cross border economic zones,” Foreign Secretary Bairagi told media adding that the bilateral cooperation deal is an important milestone in the bilateral relations between two friendly neighbours’.

Meanwhile, a high-powered delegation led by Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara will leave for Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be organized by China on May 14 and 15.

The Belt and Road initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.

The two countries agreed to enhance cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative introduced by the Chinese leadership during a visit of Former Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli to China in March last year.

“Regarding Nepal-China bilateral cooperation, both sides agreed to synergize each other’s development planning, formulate appropriate bilateral cooperation programs and to carry out major projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” part of a joint communique issued during the former prime minister’s visit to China stated.

“Both sides agreed to strengthen connectivity, further step up the land and air links and improve the land transport infrastructure,” the communique stated.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also reiterated to sign MoU on jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative in March this year when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to China.

Nepal initially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China in December 2014 though it has yet to finalize cooperation projects to be developed under the initiative.

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