Nepal to strengthen cooperation with China under B&R Initiative

KATHMANDU, May 14 (Xinhua) — Nepal expects to enhance cooperation with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat told Xinhua in the capital of Kathmandu on Sunday.

“The Chinese president’s announcement to contribute an additional 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion U.S. dollars) to the Silk Road Fund is a piece of good news for neighboring countries like Nepal that have recently joined the Belt and Road Initiative,” Prakash Sharan Mahat said.

The initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond ancient Silk Road trade routes over land and sea.

Commenting on Xi’s speech at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing on Sunday, the foreign minister said that Nepal wishes to receive more investments from China to develop inter-connectivity and infrastructure projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a wide concept. China has given top priority to promoting this initiative since it was introduced in 2013, he added. < Nepal wants to enhance railway and road inter-connectivity with China and attract more investments, he said, adding that “We are expecting more loans from China to develop various infrastructure projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Nepal and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier this week, which is aimed at enhancing cooperation in promoting inter-connectivity of infrastructure, trade links, financial integration and inter-connectivity of peoples.

Meanwhile, the forum has received widespread attention from all walks of life in Nepal.

“This is an extraordinary address by President Xi at the forum this morning,” Suresh Sharma, former brigadier general of the Nepal army, told Xinhua.

“Nepal, a birthplace of Buddha and an apostle of peace, always has remained an admirer of this noble Belt and Road Initiative to bring peace, prosperity and brotherhood for the entire world,” said Sharma, who is also the executive director of the Kathmandu-based private think-tank National Institute of Strategic Studies.

“Nepal as the closest neighbor is soon to benefit from this Belt and Road Initiative,” he added.

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who heads a high-level delegation, is attending the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

The forum is also covered by mainstream daily newspapers, online media outlets and television channels in Nepal.

Kosh Raj Koirala, a Kathmandu-based correspondent with Republica Newspaper, told Xinhua, “In his speech, President Xi has categorically put emphasis on the need to build peaceful and stable environment in the region to implement the initiative. This is expected to create conducive environment in the region for peace and prosperity.”

The Belt and Road Initiative provides opportunities for countries like Nepal that face difficulties in infrastructure development, he added.

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