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Nepal pushes for opening more border points with China

IANS | Kathmandu |

Nepal is pushing for opening nine more border points with China, beyond the four that the two neighbours have agreed upon, a media report said.

Both sides held a meeting here on Wednesday on opening more border points, but it ended inconclusively, the Kathmandu Post reported.

Delegations from Nepal and China discussed a proposal to open up 13 border points to ease the connectivity between the two countries.

“We could not reach any agreement with China,” a senior Nepali official said, requesting anonymity.

Though the Chinese side had indicated they were positive on opening three border points in east Nepal, they “backtracked on it during the meeting, making it impossible to reach any agreement”, an official told the Post.

During the meeting, the Nepali side proposed opening up nine more border points with China, beyond the four points the two sides have already inked an agreement for.

Earlier, Nepal and China had agreed to open border points at Yari, Kerung, Olangchungola and Tatopani. The Tatopani crossing has been closed since the 2015 earthquake. Nepal has also tabled a proposal on opening the border at nine more points, including Hilsa, Korola, Dolpa, Darchula, Taklakot, Olangchungola and Kimathanka.

The Road and Transpiration Agreement reached between the two countries in 1994 allows the two to reach an understanding on the matter.

The agreement facilitates opening up border points, movement of people and in some special cases, Nepal can use the Chinese highways for trade in certain parts that are not linked with road connectivity from the Nepali side.

Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation Saroj Pradhan led the Nepali team in the meeting.

Last month, China agreed to recognise the newly opened border trading route of Rasuwagadi-Kerung as an international checkpoint between Nepal and China. This came after intense efforts from the Nepali side.

The Rasuwagadi-Kerung border crossing, which connects Nepal to China’s autonomous region of Tibet, had begun operations in December 2014. It is the second largest border point for trade after Tatopani.

In mid-August, Nepal had appealed to China for immediate resumption of the Araniko Highway — the main road that links Nepal with Tibet and China, during the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang to Nepal. Beijing had agreed in principle to upgrade the trade highway.

The Araniko Highway was hit badly in the 2015 earthquake and subsequent landslides, leading to China closing down the route.

In March this year, China handed over the Araniko Highway to Nepal after completing repairs. The road is of crucial importance to Nepal as it carries a large amount of goods from China.

The 114-km highway was repaired with Chinese grant assistance of Rs 760 million.