Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tibet's Rail Link to Extend to Nepal Border

As reported by the Indo-Asian News Service; August 27, 2006

Lhasa -- China's newly built railway line to Tibet will be extended to the border with Nepal, an official said Sunday.

Meeting with visiting Nepali Deputy Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said Tibet is a remote place that is looking forward to being connected to South Asia. The railway extension will promote business exchanges, he said.

Oli said Nepal hopes China can extend the railway to the border.

China and Nepal have more than 1,400-km of common border and five open border crossings.

Nyalam, in Xigaze prefecture, is the only border crossing that boasts a highway. The Xigaze prefecture borders India, Nepal and Bhutan in the south.

According to current plans, a line will be built next year from Lhasa to Xigaze, the region's second largest city located at an altitude of about 3,800 metres and some 270 km from Lhasa. The project is expected to take three years.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which stretches 1,956 km from Xining, capital of Qinghai province, to Lhasa, was completed in July.

The city of Xigaze is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, and the prefecture is also an important production base for Tibetan agriculture and animal husbandry.

Oli, who is also minister of foreign affairs, arrived in Lhasa Saturday for an eight-day official visit to China.