Nepal PM leaves for China to deepen ties

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli

Nepal’s prime minister K.P. Sharma Oli left Sunday for a week-long visit to China aimed at deepening tries following months of frosty relations with neighbouring India.

“The prime minister left today on his first official visit to China to strengthen relations with our neighbour,” Pramod Dhahal, the prime minister’s press adviser, told AFP.

The visit comes a month after the prime minister visited India — a traditional first overseas stop for Nepali prime ministers — to mend ties strained by a border blockade.

Demonstrators from the minority Madhesi community in southern Nepal blocked a major crossing on the Indian border for several months in protest at a new constitution.

Nepal accused India, which has close links to the Madhesis, of imposing an “unofficial blockade” after cargo movement slowed at other border checkpoints in the south.

The blockade, which ended last month, sparked severe shortages of fuel and other vital supplies and forced the landlocked Himalayan nation to turn to its only other neighbour, China.

Gopal Khanal, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, said the two sides are considering a transit and trade agreement that would allow Nepal — whose only sea access is currently through India’s Kolkata — the use of China’s ports for third-country trade.

“This visit is aimed at diversifying Nepal’s ties with China and preparing Nepal to be more independent,” Khanal said.

Due for discussion are deals on development aid, on investment and on energy and connectivity.

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