DPM Shrestha to participate in BRI event in BeijingNepali delegation will leave for China on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha will represent Nepal in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) to be held in Beijing on October 17 and 18.
Although invitations to the event were sent to the government of Nepal and other line ministers like Energy Minister Shakti Basnet and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal decided to send DPM Shrestha, a minister privy to the development told the Post.
Former President Bidya Devi Bhandari had participated in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in 2019.
It has been decided that DPM Shrestha will visit China, while ministers Jwala and Basnet will visit India and Thailand, respectively, foreign minister NP Saud told the Post.
Earlier officials expected that President Ramchandra Paudel himself could participate in the event, but the Chinese side didn’t invite him this time. Dahal decided to send his deputy because he visited China just last month and no substantive agreement under the BRI is likely to be signed during the upcoming conference.
“If there was a possibility of signing any important agreement under the BRI, the prime minister would certainly visit,” a secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office said. “But there is no such plan of signing any BRI-related project or project implementation plan.”
The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing from October 17 to 18 under the theme “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”, Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, announced in Beijing on Wednesday.
President Xi Jinping will attend and deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the forum, and hold a welcome banquet and bilateral events for the guests attending the forum, she added.
DPM Shrestha also confirmed to the Post that he would be leading Nepal’s delegation to the third BRF conference in China.
“Apart from attending the BRF Conference, I also have a standing invitation from the Chinese Public Security Minister,” said Shrestha. “I will complete both the engagements during the visit.”
Chinese State Councillor and Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong has already extended an invitation to Shrestha to visit China to discuss bilateral issues as well as matters related to security, and border management, among others.
“I will make a statement at the conference and will communicate the position of the government of Nepal. We are not going to sign any agreements during the conference,” he said.
The Nepali delegation will leave for China on October 16 and will return on 20 of the same month.
Nepal and China signed the framework agreement of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2017, but both sides are still struggling to sign the implementation plan, which details project funding modalities among other things.
The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has recently shared a draft joint declaration titled “Initiative for Deepening Cooperation on Connectivity” of the upcoming event and sought comments from Nepali officials.
The second BRF, held in Beijing in 2019, saw the participation of then President Devi Bhandari. The outcome document of the second BRF had included Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network (THMCN), which is a part of the BRI.
During the prime minister’s China visit last month, both sides held extensive discussion on signing a BRI implementation plan and to execute some projects under the BRI, but that could not happen due to Nepali side’s reservations including how to fund the projects. The Nepali side wants to fund BRI projects either through grants or concessional loans and avoid commercial loans, which are expensive. The two sides also expressed their commitment to accelerating consultations to finalise the text on the BRI Implementation Plan at an early date.