Kathmandu-Lhasa bus service to resume in January

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KATHMANDU, Nov 23 (Reuters) A direct public bus service linking the Nepali capital Kathmandu and Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, will resume in January next year in a move aimed at boosting tourism, officials said today.

Nepal and its giant communist neighbour China started the bus service in 2005 but the journey on the 873-km route across the Himalayas was suspended owing to problems and delays faced by passengers in getting a Chinese visa.

''This time the Chinese authorities have assured us that they will expedite the visa process and clear applications as early as possible,'' Khagendra Mani Pokharel, director general in Nepal's Transport Management Department, said after negotiations with the Tibetan officials.

The first bus will leave Kathmandu to Lhasa on Jan. 1 next year.

After that a Nepali and a Tibetan bus will leave Kathmandu and Lhasa on every Friday. The journey will cost 70 dollar per passenger, he said.

''We hope the service will boost our tourism and we can develop Kathmandu as a major transit point for Tibet,'' he said.

China has also assured Nepal that it will ease visa formalities for foreign tourists travelling in groups but the Chinese visa for visitors wanting to travel alone will be difficult, Pokharel said.

Every year thousands of Western trekkers visit scenic Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest.

Reuters RC GC1738

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