Dahal to seek global community’s nod to Nepal peace processPrime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal will carry a long wish list to China after the conclusion of his New York visit.
Leading a delegation to the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal left for New York on Saturday evening.
The prime minister is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 21 and attend a reception hosted by US President Joe Biden on September 19. He will also address the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit and Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the UNGA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said while announcing the visit.
“Dahal will hold a meeting with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various countries on the sidelines of the General Assembly,” the ministry said in a statement.
This time, the prime minister is leading a relatively small team to the UN due to opposition from various quarters that a delegation of almost two dozen officials was in the making.
The prime minister will seek the international community’s support to conclude Nepal’s peace process, said Agni Prasad Sapkota, a vice-chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre), on Saturday. Dahal is the party chairman.
“There is no alternative but to conclude the peace process. The process is almost complete, but its official declaration is yet to be made,” Sapkota told journalists at the Maoist party headquarters. “This will happen only after taking it to a logical conclusion. The prime minister’s main priority is to assure the international community.”
Starting in 2006, the peace process remains incomplete, even though the parties had agreed to conclude it within six months when they signed the comprehensive peace accord in November that year.
“It is our failure not to complete the peace process for so long,” said Sapkota. Efforts continue to conclude the peace process involving mainly the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the CPN-UML.
After completing his engagements in New York, the prime minister will fly directly to China for the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 23. He will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping there the same evening.
On September 25, Dahal will meet his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang in Beijing, where the two leaders will hold delegation-level talks, followed by the signing of some agreements and MoUs.
The Nepali side has prepared to sign at least eight agreements and a memorandum of understanding during the visit.
But the prime minister is carrying a long wish list to China, forwarded by various ministries, a minister said, adding that the prime minister's office cut a hundred agendas to 30.
The two sides will sign agreements on establishing some agro-industrial parks, cooperation in agricultural sectors like fisheries and livestock, cultural cooperation, and construction of north-south road corridors besides a cross-border transmission line.
According to ministers, agreements will be signed to carry out the Tokha-Chhahare tunnel project, two agro-industrial parks, including one in Gorkha, the use of Chinese technology in the education sector, and the construction of the Rasuwa-Kerung cross-border transmission line. Some other memoranda of understanding, which are currently being discussed with the Chinese side, are yet to be finalised.
According to the minister, the prime minister will propose the construction of the Hilsa-Simikot and Dhangadi-Kutiya roads, an upgrade of the Araniko Highway, and the construction of cross-border transmission lines via Kimathanka and Kerung.
The prime minister will discuss infrastructure building on the Nepali side at the Korola entry point, besides issues related to trade, transit, agro-industrial park, and the Tokha-Chhahare tunnel project. Building a multi-functional lab with Chinese assistance, setting up a trade promotion centre at Chobhar, and Kimathanka road construction are also on the cards. Mutual recognition of standards, certifications and accreditations are other areas of cooperation.
The prime minister will also seek Chinese assistance for Madan Bhandari Science and Technology University, export of Nepali agriculture products, and cooperation in fishery and livestock. He will request Chinese authorities to start direct flights to Pokhara and Bhairahawa international airports and help build a monorail in Kathmandu Valley, said the minister.
Seeking Chinese assistance for Karnali Health Academy, Bir Hospital expansion, resumption of the old trading points between Nepal and China and opening up of new ones, construction of the electric charging stations, and Chinese assistance in Nepal rural development, including poverty alleviation, are other items on the prime minister’s agenda.
Nepal can potentially seek one big project under grant as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, but it has not been decided, said the minister.
Nepal and China signed the BRI in 2017 but have yet to agree on its implementation plan.
All the political parties of Nepal are one on the BRI issue, and the prime minister is holding discussions to reach an agreement, said Sapkota. Dahal is trying to build a concrete national position on the Chinese President Xi’s flagship connectivity project, he added.
After completing his engagements in Beijing, Dahal will visit Chongqing. The city has made tremendous progress in areas of agriculture and technology. As per the itinerary, Dahal will also tour the Chongqing Academy of Agricultural Sciences and other institutes.
“From Chongqing, we will leave for Tibet with which Nepal shares a long border. We’ll return to Kathmandu after meeting senior Chinese government officials there,” Dahal told Parliament on Friday.
The prime ministerial visit is taking place after the Covid-19 pandemic. Foreign Minister NP Saud, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Prakash Jwala, Minister for Water Supply Mahendra Ray Yadav, and some government secretaries and officials will accompany the prime minister to China. The Cabinet has also authorised the prime minister in principle to pursue any other agreements with China, subject to government approval after he returns.
Nepal will seek to reopen Nepal-China border points, mainly traditional trading points, that were shut after the Covid pandemic. “I believe my visit will strengthen and deepen [Nepal’s] traditional friendly relations with China. We will also seek further avenues of bilateral cooperation,” Dahal told parliamentarians.