‘Pact on Nepal-China rail project in final stage’

Kathmandu: The much-talked about pact on the Kathmandu-Kerung rail project, a cross-border rail network between Nepal and China, is in the final stage of signature, said Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

Speaking at a programme organised by the China Study Centre and the Nepal Institute for Strategic Centre on “One Belt One Road Initiative and South Asia” in the capital on Friday, Mahara said Nepal would sign the pact with China.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ had assured the Chinese side that Nepal would sign an agreement to extend the rail network from Kerung to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbni, he said.

“As per the PM’s proposal, we are making preparations to sign the agreement with China soon,” Mahara said.

While it is uncertain whether Nepal would be part of “One Belt One Road” (OBOR), Mahara, who is set to lead Nepal at the OBOR conference in Beijing next month, said that Nepal wanted to take advantage of the plan, reported the Kathmandu Post.

“We have taken it as an opportunity to expand economic cooperation,” he said, adding, “Nepal is at a final stage to sign the initiative to which the government has accorded the highest priority.”

“We are sure a country like Nepal will be helped by this initiative which is expected to bring together many countries, including those in South Asia,” Mahara said.

Though top Nepali officials, including Prachanda, have been insisting on Nepal’s participation at the OBOR conference, sources privy to the development said negotiations and consultations with the Chinese side are underway and no concrete decision has been made yet, the daily reported.

During his recent visit to China, the Prime Minister had assured the Chinese leaders that Nepal would be the signatory of the initiative by April 20.

But Nepal could not meet the deadline because a text for the agreement was not ready, said an official.