Nepal can’t remain a poor country between China and India: Envoy

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) Ambassador of Nepal Deep Kumar Upadhyay on Friday said that Nepal can no longer afford to remain a poor country, sandwiched between the two emerging economies of China and India.

“Being a landlocked country, it is our right to access the sea from the northern side also. That is why some kind of agreement with government of China (is needed). But I do not know how much time it will take,” he said while delivering a talk on India-Nepal relations in the Foreign Correspondent Club of South Asia.

Speaking on the proposed rail link between India and China through the Himalayan nation, Upadhyay said that many works are in progress and new rail links are being planned. More such links are expected in the future. The government of China has proposed rail link to Pokhra, Kathmandu and Lumbini.

If there is a good link from China to Nepal border and from any Indian city to Nepal, it will boost trade and benefit the entire region.

Highlighting the difficulties in having a transport link with China, Ambassador Upadhyay gave the example of the severe damage suffered by the Araniko Highway connecting the two countries in 2015 earthquake and said “till today we don’t know what kind of damage it has suffered”.

“The government of China is also trying to reopen the Tatopani border but they have not been able to.”

In April 2015, Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake that killed around 20,000 people.

Highlighting the significance of the Indo-Nepalese relations, the ambassador said, “Nepal and India share a unique relationship, not only age-old but also time-tested, deep, comprehensive and multi-dimensional.”

He said people in Nepal were facing a lot of hardships due to India’s demonetisation decision as high-value Indian currency notes were in large circulation in the country.

He said a Nepalese delegation of top officials of Nepal’s finance and foreign ministries as well as Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) was holding talks with the Reserve Bank of India and the concerned Indian agencies to thrash out a solution to resolve the problems arising after the demonetisation.

“I am fully confident that the problem will be resolved,” he added.

When asked about the China-Nepal military exercises, the envoy said, “We should be proud of our engagements. Engagement with India cannot be compared with other countries. We should not be scared by these things. We should be proud enough and sure about ourselves.”

On the question of Saarc, he said, “I think Saarc is not going in a way we had expected. But I am hopeful… We should revitalise the philosophy of Saarc.”

The 19th Saarc summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad last year, was cancelled after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan decided to stay away from the meet, following September 18 terrorist attack on the Indian Army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.

At least 19 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack.