DPM Mahara to represent Nepal in OBOR meetingThe government has confirmed Nepal’s participation in the One Belt One Road conference in Beijing next month.
The government has confirmed Nepal’s participation in the One Belt One Road conference in Beijing next month.
Officials are continuing efforts to sign an agreement with China during the conference for Nepal to become a part of OBOR, a flagship foreign policy initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara will lead the Nepali delegation to the conference. Two other ministers—Physical Infrastructure Minister Ramesh Lekhak and Communications Minister Surendra Karki—are in the delegation joined by other senior government officials.
The conference will kick off on May 14, the day Nepal conducts the first phase of local elections. Mahara and Lekhak hail from Province 5 and 7, respectively, where the polls are held in the second phase on June 14.
The Nepali side on Thursday communicated to the Chinese authorities that Kathmandu is sending a high-level delegation to the conference, according to Rishi Raj Adhikari, foreign relations adviser to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. In fact, PM Dahal was invited to the conference but the government made this arrangement due to the elections.
During his recent visit to China, PM Dahal had assured Chinese leaders that Nepal would be a signatory to the initiative within April 20. “But we could not meet the deadline because a text for the agreement was not ready,” said an official. “We are still holding negotiations with the Chinese side to finalise the text for Nepal joining the OBOR.”
Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi held a series of meetings with Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong on Monday and Tuesday at the Foreign Ministry in order to narrow down the differences and to agree on a text that Nepal can sign at the conference.
Officials said the two sides have already settled sections on connectivity but issues like commerce, financial institutions and currency arrangements and Nepal’s lobbying for special favour in trade and investment as a least development country are yet to be addressed.
After intensive meetings, the Chinese side is learnt to have told Nepali officials that they will respond to Nepal’s concerns after consultation with Beijing within a couple of days. “If China agrees to our terms, we’ll sign the agreement at the upcoming conference,” said Adhikari.
At least 28 heads of state and over 150 nations have confirmed their participation in the conference. Conceived and bankrolled by China, OBOR is a long-term strategic initiative to improve connectivity and enhance trade routes from Southeast Asia to Europe.