China offers $119 million in aid to Nepal

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2012 11:31 AM
China offers $119 million in aid to Nepal

China on Saturday agreed to provide Nepal with $119 million in aid during a surprise visit to the tiny Himalayan nation by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Tirtha Wagle, the Nepalese foreign ministry spokesman, said the countries signed agreements under which Beijing will provide economic and technical assistance and strengthen Nepal's police. Nepal is home to thousands of Tibetan exiles, and the government has worked to suppress anti-China sentiment there.

Wen had planned to visit Nepal last month, but that trip was canceled for undisclosed reasons. This visit came ahead of a Middle East trip by the premier, and was kept secret until a few hours before he arrived.

China has built highways and financed other development projects in Nepal, which is looking for increased financial assistance and investment as it recovers from years of insurgency and political uncertainty.

Nepal is looking for China's help in developing a small airport at Pokhara, a tourist resort, into an international airport, and in building mountain highways and a hydropower plant.

China's major concern in Nepal has been its thousands of Tibetan refugees, who want independence from China and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Thousands more Tibetans pass through Nepal every year on their way to India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

Nepal's government has previously blocked Tibetan exiles from demonstrating against China, and police have detained some protesters. With security tight in the Nepalese capital on Saturday, there were no reports of protests.

Wen held talks Saturday with Nepal's prime minister and met with Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav, Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress and Pushpa Kamal Dahal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

(This version updates with Nepalese foreign ministry spokesman correcting the Chinese aid figure to $119 million.)