Insisting that Nepal will maintain close ties with both India and China while pursuing an independent foreign policy, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said the Himalayan country can well serve as a bridge between India and China.
The Nepal Prime Minister is in Beijing on a five-day visit, where he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
In a significant development, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two to build a railway link connecting Tibet with Kathmandu, along with 14 cooperative documents.
“We have made it clear that we pursue an independent foreign policy and a balanced outlook in the conduct of international relations,” he told Chinese press, adding both Indian and China receive top priority and its relations with both of them are “broad, comprehensive and multi-faceted”.
Asked whether Nepal will be the “land of the competition” or “bridge of cooperation” between China and India, Oli said Nepal has remained a sovereign and independent nation throughout history.
“We believe that Nepal can serve as a bridge between our two neighbours. In fact, we want to move from the state of a land-locked to a land-linked country through the development of adequate cross border connectivity. Our friendship with both neighbours places us in an advantageous position to realise this goal,” he said.
On the Tibet-Kathmandu railway link, he said “cross-border connectivity is our top priority. Both sides have discussed developing a multidimensional trans-Himalayan connectivity network. This will enhance overall connectivity between our two countries.”
“Our two countries are working seriously to establish cross-border railway connectivity. Kerung-Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway project has received priority in our partnership,” he said.
On China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said “this is an important initiative launched by President Xi Jinping with the aim of promoting connectivity and cooperation among the countries in the region and beyond.”
“We believe that the BRI should be beneficial to all the participating countries. Nepal wants to benefit from the initiative and at the same time, works for the benefit of the international community,” he said.
India has reservations over the BRI as it includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
(With inputs from PTI)