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Nepal, China to sign petroleum deal to import fuel from Beijing

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Nepal China Petroleum Deal

Kathmandu: In a significant departure, Nepal and China have agreed to sign a long-term petroleum deal to import fuel from Beijing. With this, Nepal will end the Indian monopoly over fuel imports.

The foreign ministers of Nepal and China have directed the concerned authorities to seal the deal at the earliest, officials said.

This followed a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Friday.

For exploring the possibilities of importing fuel on an urgent basis, a two-member team from the ministry of commerce and supplies and the Nepali Oil Corp has reached Beijing.

Thapa is the senior most Nepali official to visit China after Kathmandu came out with a new constitution, protests against which have virtually sealed the India-Nepal border creating major shortages in Nepal.

“By overcoming the harsh geographical and environmental conditions, for the first time, we have agreed to supply fuel to Nepal that it urgently needs. Foreign Minister Thapa and I had very in-depth talks and reached a broad consensus,” Yang said at a joint press meet in Beijing with Thapa.

Thapa said: “I am very happy to note that China has instructed the petroleum export authority to be in touch and discuss issues related with the long-term trade of petroleum products with Nepal.”

A press statement issued after the meeting by the foreign affairs ministry stated that China had expressed a desire to seriously examine Nepal’s proposals to import petroleum products from Beijing.

The two countries will jointly examine matters relating to price, transportation, and logistics. As a friendly gesture, China will provide additional fuel to Nepal’s northern areas bordering Tibet.

Nepal and China also agreed to upgrade and operationalize the existing border points and develop the other border points to promote connectivity between the two countries.

China has agreed to give priority to the reopening of the Tatopani-Zhangmu border point, which had been disrupted after the April earthquake that killed thousands in Nepal.

The intergovernmental mechanisms have been tasked to advance negotiations on the proposals on a free trade area, transit and Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA).

Thapa and Wang also discussed a transit treaty between the two countries.

Thapa said the treaty would enable Nepalese to access travel and goods from other countries through Chinese ports.

On India-Nepal relations, Thapa said: “Immediately after the promulgation of the constitution, there has been some misunderstanding between Nepal and India.

“Because of this, India imposed unofficial obstruction on transit and supply of fuel and other essential commodities,” he said.

“That caused a severe impact on the Nepalese society. It also had a negative impact on our economic growth. But I am very happy to say at this point of time that things are moving and improving,” said Thapa. (IANS)

(Photo: kathmandupost.ekantipur.com)

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New Virus Can Spread Through Human Contact: China

China: Possible That New Virus Could Spread Between Humans

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CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Security guards stand in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market, where health authorities say a man who died from a respiratory illness had purchased goods from, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. VOA

The possibility that a new virus in central China could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

Forty-one people in the city of Wuhan have received a preliminary diagnosis of a novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more serious diseases. A 61-year-old man with severe underlying conditions died from the coronavirus on Saturday.

While preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus from her husband, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Commuters wear protection masks inside a subway train in Hong Kong, China. VOA

The commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn’t had any exposure to the market.

It’s possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a news briefing. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it’s also possible that he infected her.

Chuang and other Hong Kong health officials spoke to reporters Wednesday following a trip to Wuhan, where mainland Chinese authorities briefed them on the outbreak.

The threat of human-to-human transmission remains low, Chuang said, as hundreds of people, including medical professionals, have been in close contact with infected individuals and have not been infected themselves.

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She echoed Wuhan authorities’ assertion that there remains no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The outbreak in Wuhan has raised the specter of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS is a type of coronavirus that first struck southern China in late 2002. It then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people. (VOA)