China PM holds talks with Nepal PM

Kathmandu: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the first major leader from the world`s second largest economy to visit Nepal in a decade today held hectic parleys with the country`s leaders to boost investments and aid.

Arriving on a brief visit amidst a security lockdown, Wen met his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai and was also scheduled to meet Maoist chief Prachanda and NC chief Sushil Koirala.

The Chinese Prime Minister after being received by Bhattarai drove straight to Singhdurbar for one to one meeting during which eight agreements worth USD 500 million are expected to be signed.

The Chinese Prime Minister`s visit is being held amidst tightest security with even newsmen not allowed to enter the airport as well as Singhdurbar where the talks were held. Only a few photographers and cameramen beloning to state run electronic media were allowed inside the premises where talks were held.

Wen is on a brief visit, an official statement here said which did not disclose the agenda of his trip. The Chinese leader`s tour here comes apparently to compensate the sudden cancellation of his scheduled tour to the country last month.

Wen arrived in Kathmandu on a apecial aircraft at 11.45 am local time amidst extra-ordinarily beefed up security and media restrictions.

An hour before the Chinese PM`s arrival four persons including two women carrying Chinese passports were detained from Narayanhity Palace Museum area with the suspicion of being Tibetan activists. Two of them were wearing monk dress.

Earlier, Bhattarai and his two deputies Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Home Minister BIjaya Kumar Gachhadar reached the Tribhuvan International Airport for his welcome.

Commenting on the restrictions imposed to the media in the wake of the Chinese leader`s visit, president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists Association Shiva Gaunle said, "This is violation of press freedom and human rights". He also expressed regret over the government`s move to restrict entry of the media persons during the visit.

Reporters Club Nepal also deplored the move saying "this is a blow to the freedom of press."

This is the first visit by a Chinese premier since the then premier Zhu Rongji?s Nepal entourage in May 2001. Wen was earlier scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu on a three-day official visit on December 20 but the visit was postponed at the eleventh hour citing security reasons.Though his itinerary was kept secret, officials believe that the Chinese Premier would discuss with his Nepalese counterpart Bhattarai investments worth billions of dollars for infrastructure projects.

The visit is taking place at the invitation of the Bhattarai, a press release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said here today. Earlier on Thursday night the police had detained 154 Tibetans as they were returning to the capital from a pilgrimage to India.

Wen will call on President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav at Rastripati Bhawan at Sheetal Niwas in the afternoon. Wen was to visit Nepal and Myanmar in the middle of last month but put off his travel at the last minute due to pressing domestic engagements, Chinese officials said. He will be Kathmandu for few hours before flying onto Saudi Arabia to commence his tour of Gulf countries.

Wen`s entourage includes Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Ping, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, Director of the Research Office of the State Council Xie Fuzhan among others.

The Chinese PM is accompanied by around a dozen ministers including those carrying foreign, commerce and National Development and Reforms portfolios. The visit was reportedly kept under wraps due to security reasons and threats of protests by the Tibetan refugees.

Nepal in the recent months tightened restrictions on the Tibetan refugees following pressure from China. Premier Zhu Rongji was the last Chinese leader to visit Nepal in 2001. Before his arrival, police and security agencies threw a dragnet around the capital, detaining hundreds of Tibetans refugees as a precautionary step.