Prachanda, Xi set to meet in Goa during BRICS summit

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Kathmandu, Sep 26: Nepalese Prime Minister Prachanda is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit next month in Goa, where India has invited the leaders of the seven-nation BIMSTEC grouping.

The Nepalese prime minister will meet the Chinese President in Goa on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC meeting, a senior Maoist leader close to Prachanda told PTI.

Prachanda, Xi set to meet in Goa

The eighth BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - summit and retreat is scheduled in Goa on October 15 and 16.

India has especially invited the leaders from Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries to participate in the retreat that will follow the summit on October 16.

BIMSTEC includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand and India. Xi was earlier due to visit Nepal next month. But there has been no official confirmation about Xi's visit to Nepal.

The leader, however, said the proposed visit has not been cancelled and the government was making preparations for it to happen. Nepal government has previously refuted reports that said the Chinese president's visit was cancelled as China was unhappy with the new Prachanda-led government who visited New Delhi ahead of Beijing earlier this month.

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Reports have said China was unhappy over the lack of preparation for Xi's proposed visit and over implementing the pacts reached by Prachanda's predecessor K P Sharma Oli's government to step up construction of road and rail links to Tibet to reduce landlocked Nepal's dependence on India.

Oli followed a pro-China policy, straining Indo-Nepal ties. The ties had also strained after the new constitution was promulgated in Nepal last year, following which Madhesis, the inhabitants of southern Terai plains who share cultural and family bonds with Indians, began a months-long protests at tborder trading points with India against the Oli government.

They claimed the constitution was discriminatory and intented to politically marginalise them. Media reports here however have sauggested that Prachanda has asked Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat and Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, who are attending the 71st UN General Assembly session, to return to make arrangements for the upcoming visit of the Chinese president.

Meanwhile, Nepal has requested China to expand its railway network to border points besides the planned expansion to Kerung (Geelong port) - the nearest Chinese town from Nepal's Rasuwagadhi border point, a Commerce Ministry official said here.

China is considering to extend its Qinghai-Tibet Railway network up to the Geelong Port. "We have requested asked the Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to consider expanding its railway to other border points during the Nepal-Tibet Trade Facilitation Committee meeting held in Lhasa last week," said Rabi Shankar Sainju, joint secretary in the Commerce Ministry.

PTI 

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