Nepal sees China’s Belt and Road initiative as chance for Asia to improve connectivity

KATHMANDU, March 24 — China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative is an opportunity for Nepal and other Asian countries to improve their regional and global connectivity, Nepal has said.

Addressing a talk program Monday in Kathmandu, Nepalese Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey voiced his country’s support for China’s initiative.

“With due respect to our long-standing cordial relations with China, the government of Nepal has extended its support for China’ s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative,” Pandey said.

The talk program “Silk Road: Enhancing Nepal-China Connectivity ” was organized by a state-owned think-thank, the Institute of Foreign Affairs.

Nepali foreign minister’s remarks came at a time when China is going to reveal the details of revival of Silk Road initiatives this week during the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia to be held in China’ s Hainan province.

The foreign minister recalled that Nepal signed a four-point document with China in December last year in Beijing during an inter-governmental committee’s meeting when Nepal agreed to become a part of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

“The issue of infrastructure development under this initiative also surfaced during my visit to China,” Pandey said while talking about his recent five-day official visit to China.

The foreign minister said Nepal will join the Silk Road Economic Belt as it has great significance to Nepal as it will enhance connectivity and take the Nepal-China relations to a new height.

He said most of other members of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have also planned to join either the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road or the Silk Road Economic Belt.

“Silk Road revival is not only Nepal-China affairs alone. It is heartening to learn that most of SAARC members have also planned to join either the Maritime Silk Road or the Silk Road Economic Belt. This is really a good beginning for enhancing regional and global connectivity,” the minister said.

Speaking on the same occasion, Nepalese Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi said it is high time for Nepal to think about establishing better connectivity with the region and the world from which Nepal can benefit economically and geographically as well.

“Nepal will be definitely benefited if we realize the immense potentialities of China’s initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt,” he said.

While talking about China’s “one belt, one road” initiatives, former foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya said China’s proposal for reviving the old Silk Road has created potential for unleashing a new wave of opportunities in trade, tourism, transportation and pipeline connectivity in the Asian region.

He said that Nepal should make concerted efforts to benefit from China’s initiatives.

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