Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday on the sidelines of BRICS Summit in Goa, India, following criticism at home of ignoring relations with China and botching a vist to Nepal by Xi.
“The (Chinese) president expressed readiness to visit Nepal at the earliest convenient date,” Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a twitter statement right after the 40-minute-long meeting between the two top officials.
“They talked about promoting cooperation for development including infrastructure, connectivity, trade and transit,” the tweet said.
Xi was widely expected to visit Nepal along with Cambodia and Bangladesh en route to the BRICS summit, but he decided to bypass Nepal, citing inadequate preparation, according to Nepali officials.
Since coming into office three months ago, the Dahal-led government has put more emphasis on improving relations with India, which had soured following a border blockade of Nepal by New Delhi over internal Nepalese ethnic strife that threatened to cross the border.
Nepal faced critical shortages of emergency supplies including fuel and medicine for four months last year as India refused to allow cargo movement into Nepal.
In response, the previous government led by KP Sharma Oli signed a trade and transit accord with China in March of this year to decrease Nepal’s dependence on India.
Beijing has also shown interest in building road and railway networks to connect the two countries. Though China wants to see an early implementation of this accord, it remains wary of political instability inside Nepal and India’s outsized influence among major political players.