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Chinese premier visits Nepal

world Updated: Jan 15, 2012 00:25 IST
Utpal Parashar

Less than a month after postponing his trip, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a sudden stopover in Nepal on Saturday on way to a six-day visit to the Middle East.

Wen landed at the Tribhuwan International Airport at 11.45am on an Air China Boeing 747 and departed for Qatar later in the afternoon.

During the stay he held discussions with President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and other political leaders. The two sides signed eight agreements on infrastructure development.

The Chinese delegation agreed to provide a one-time grant of US $20 million for Nepal's peace process. There were also assurances on increase of annual grant from Beijing for development of hydro-power projects, airports, roads and other infrastructure.

In a joint statement, the two sides stated that Wen's visit has taken Nepal-China relations to a "new height" and it served as a "milestone".

On its part Nepal reiterated its One China policy and the Chinese committed not to interfere in the Himalayan nation's internal affairs.

Wen's visit was a closely guarded secret and Nepal government and Chinese embassy officials had declined to confirm it till Friday evening. Details of his trip were also not available.

"The surreptitious handling of the whole affair dampens the spirit of friendship and sends out a message that something is amiss," the 'Republica' wrote in its editorial on Saturday.

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yang Houlan had informed Bhattarai about the brief visit during a meeting on Thursday.

The trip is the second most high profile visit by a Chinese leader in over a decade since Premier Zhu Rongji came here in 2001.

Wen was scheduled to visit Nepal last month, but the trip was postponed at the last minute following speculation about security concerns and possible protests by Tibetan exiles based in Nepal.

It was also reported that Chinese authorities were upset with Bhattarai for disclosing dates of the proposed visit without Beijing officially making any such announcement.

Nepali officials however stated that the visit was postponed due to Wen's busy "internal" commitments.