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Chinese army delegation to visit Nepal

As political parties are fighting over the issue of integration of Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers with the Nepal Army, a high-level delegation of Chinese Army is planning a to the Himalayan nation. Anirban Roy reports.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2008 21:30 IST
Anirban Roy

As political parties are fighting over the issue of integration of Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army soldiers with the Nepal Army, a high-level delegation of Chinese Army is planning a five-day visit to the Himalayan nation.

A high-level delegation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is scheduled to reach Kathmandu on November 19, officials of the Ministry of Defence said, adding that the eight-member Chinese delegation will be led by Major-General I. Huzeng.

The visit of the Chinese Army delegation is in the critical political situation as opposition political parties, including the Nepali Congress, are opposing the government’s move to integrate 19,600 Maoist soldiers in Nepal Army.

The Chinese delegation is likely to meet Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam, Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Chief of Nepal Army General Rookmangud Katawal and the Defence Secretary Baman Prasad Neupane.

Though the Nepal government did not specify the reason of visit by the Chinese Army delegation, it is sure to raise many questions about China’s role in the integration of the Maoist army with the national army.

This is the first visit by any Chinese Army delegation to Nepal after the insurgency-ravaged country transformed into a federal democratic republic. It has been reported that the Nepal government has suddenly started getting closer to China.

Within 48 hours of taking over as Prime Minister, Prachanda had undertaken a high-profile visit to Beijing, and had held meetings with Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao.

Earlier, several senior Maoist leaders including Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Barsha Man Pun had undertaken visits to China.

During the last week of September this year, Nepal’s Defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had also been to Beijing to observe a military exercise--Warrior 2008.

Euphoric with the political change in Nepal, China had promised a military aid of Rs (Nepali) 100 million to Thapa for Nepal. However, it was not specified whether the Chinese aid comprised cash or military equipments.

Earlier in 2005, China had supplied arms to the Nepal Army during King Gyanendra’s direct rule. The weapons were used to combat the Maoist insurgency as well as the pro-democracy movements in 2006.