Chinese Premier Wen arrives in Nepal

Kathmandu: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived here today, marking the first visit by a leader of the world`s second largest economy to the landlocked country in a decade. 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.

Though his itinerary was kept secret, officials believe that the Chinese Premier would discuss with his Nepalese counterpart Baburam 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.

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 in 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 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.