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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Nepal-India-China cooperation: Quest for trilateral partnership begins

Nepal-India-China cooperation: Quest for trilateral partnership begins

The much talked about Nepal-India-China trilateral cooperation at the track-II level was initiated in Kathmandu when political leaders, security experts and strategic thinkers brainstormed on ways to move ahead in a consolidated manner.
The first of its kind, the trilateral meeting brought to the fore some “critical” regional issues, which will be discussed in detail in the meetings to be held in Beijing and New Delhi.

Thursday’s meeting discussed increasing the frequency of political engagements, bringing on board more stakeholders and forging a common understanding on the trilateral cooperation model, which will later work as a policy paper and guidelines for the three countries.

On behalf of Nepal, Central Committee member of the Nepali Congress Dr Shekhar Koirala and UCPN (Maoist) leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara stressed the need for a stable Nepal, which is equally important for both India and China. “Without Nepal’s stability, India and China will not be stable. All our efforts will be in vain if we cannot win the confidence of our big neighbours,” said Koirala. He added that both the neighbours have some common concerns with Nepal, like security, water resources, development, trade and tourism. “We should brace ourselves to bring together our two neighbours for greater stability and peace in the region and Nepal in particular,” he said.

It was agreed that the trilateral cooperation centres around the belief that Nepal can act as a catalyst to bring India and China into a collaborative relationship within the bounds of a trilateral framework and thereby, promote and facilitate a discourse of cooperation between two of the fastest growing economies of the world. “It was also agreed that specific and concrete projects or programmes would be initiated at the earliest to give immediate impetus to the concept of China-India-Nepal Trilateral Cooperation. Such projects were identified, among others, as being related to travel and tourism,” a statement issued by the organising body, the Nepal Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said. Possibilities for cooperation in energy projects were also discussed, including the idea of a trans-country power trade agreement in which electricity could be traded freely between China, India and Nepal through a regional grid connected to the three countries.

The next meeting will be held in Beijing with New Delhi hosting the third meeting. Among the Indian participants in the meeting were Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi Ravi Bhoothalingam, Colonel Virendra Sahai Verma, also of the Institute of Chinese Studies and PhD scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi Tshering Chonzom.

From China, the participants were Director of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing Cui Hongjian, Assistant Director of the South Asia-West China Cooperation and Development Studies at Sichuan University Prof Liu Jiawei and Director of the Confucius Institute in Nepal Prof Zhang Shubin. Besides Koirala and Mahara, former ambassador to India Durgesh Man Singh, Lieutenant General (retd) Sadip Bahadur Shah, Ku Man Ghising, Siddhant Raj Pandey, Bhaskar Koirala and Semanta Dahal represented Nepal. The participants later met President Ram Baran Yadav and discussed the prospects of such a cooperation.