04/28/2006, 00.00
NEPAL
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China to look at new parliament that meets today

by Prakash Dubey
Prime minister's swearing in ceremony is postponed for health reasons. A Chinese delegation led by Luo Chao Hui arrived on April 25 in Kathmandu for talks with seven opposition parties.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – For the first time in four years Nepal's parliaments met today, but the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Girija Prasad Koirala, scheduled for today, was postponed for health reasons. The 84-year-old political leader, who has occupied the post several times, is recovering from a bout with bronchitis.

Meanwhile, major world powers like India, the United States and the European Union have expressed their satisfaction for opposition parties' victory crisis. China, however, is the odd man out.

China watcher Sudhir Basnet told AsiaNews that unlike the rest of the international community, which suspended its aid to Nepal, Beijing backed King Gyanendra in his 15 months of direct rule, including providing military support, on the grounds that what was happening was an internal Nepalese matter.

"The seven opposition parties were surely rubbed the wrong way," Basnet said. "But the Chinese are well-versed in the art of diplomacy and have already started saying that they will support the new government since they still stand by the principle of non interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Furthermore, political parties have their own interests and China remains a friend of Nepal and can help its development."

On April 25, a day after King Gyanendra's historic announcement, a Chinese delegation led by Luo Chao Hui, deputy director of Asian affairs, arrived in Kathmandu to smooth over tensions between Nepal's opposition parties and Beijing. Luo met almost all major opposition leaders, including Girja Prasad Koirala.

A foreign diplomat in Nepal, who chose to remain anonymous, told AsiaNews that China is worried because "it fears that the new leadership might seek privileged ties with India and the United States. This could have repercussions on the problem of Tibetan refugees. Hence, the Chinese want to shuffle the cards and seek a greater role in the mountain kingdom. I am certain that many Nepalese politicians are in favour of a constructive relationship with China and so Beijing will be able to protect its own interests".

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