China offers $135mn aid to Nepal

In a bid to woo its land-locked southern neighbour, China on Saturday offered $135 million in aid to Nepal to beef up its infrastructure and security during a brief and surprise visit by the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Holding hectic parleys with Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai, the country's President Ram Baran Yadav, Maoist chief Prachanda and leaders of other parties, Wen inked as many as eight agreements amid a virtual media blackout.

His trip was conducted in complete secrecy and under heavy security lockdown with police and paramilitary forces deployed in strengths in and around the capital. The security forces had as a precautionary measure detained large number of Tibetan refugees apparently to bar them from holding demonstration.

"The visit has proven a milestone in the development of friendly ties between the two neighbouring countries," Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha told reporters.

The delegation level talks headed by Bhattarai and Wen were held in a cordial atmosphere and the two sides agreed to strengthen bilateral relations, expanding economic cooperation, he said.

Under a series of agreements, Beijing agreed to provide massive assistance for a number of Nepal's infrastructure projects and also bankroll the modernisation of the country's police.

China offered a 750 million RMB ($113mn) in aid to Nepal during the visit by Wen. Wen announced $20 million as one time special grant to Nepal. He also pledged to provide an annual grant assistance of 200 million RMB to Nepal this year as part of 750 million RMB worth three years grant assistance under economic and technical cooperation, according to Shrestha.

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