KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Chinese Minister Chang and his Nepali counterpart Khand discuss joint military exercises.
Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan has pledged a grant assistance of Nepalese rupees 3.04 billion ($28 million) to strengthen the Nepal Army (NA) in disaster management and equip it for the United Nations peacekeeping mission.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday, Chang said the Chinese government was ready to support the NA with the equipment equal to the pledged amount.
The commitment from Chang is part of the pledge made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to PM Dahal during their meeting in September last year during the BRICS Outreach Summit in Goa.
Chang arrived in Kathmandu for a three-day visit on Thursday, the first by a Chinese defence minister in 15 years. Defence Minister Bal Krishna Khand said the Chinese side would provide the equipment support based on the demand from NA.
“The two sides will finalise the support after the NA provides the list of military support it needs,” Khand told the Post. The NA which wants to double its presence in the UN peacekeeping mission from around 5,000 at present is struggling to manage equipment. The doubling effort is expected to cost around Rupees 7 billion as the NA has to prepare the troops to deploy them in war-hit countries.
The Rupees 3.04 billion military assistance from the northern neighbour on Thursday comes weeks after China’s pledge during an investment summit early this month to plough $8.3 billion (approximately Rupees 860 billion), equivalent to nearly 40 percent of Nepal’s GDP, into Nepal for infrastructure development.
Khand and Chang, who is leading a 19-member delegation to Nepal, also held discussions on holding military exercises, the first ever by the armies of Nepal and China.
The dates are yet to be announced, but the first of the joint exercises is likely to take place in the third week of April, NA officials said, adding that the drills to be held for two weeks would focus on disaster management.
Chang is scheduled to hold a meeting with Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri on Friday.