China offers to help electricity-starved Nepal

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — China said Friday that it would help Nepal develop its power industry to alleviate severe electricity outages that can last up to 12 hours a day in the Himalayan nation, where Beijing is trying to increase influence and investment.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would provide funding and human resources to train Nepalese professionals in the hydropower and other sectors. Wang spoke to reporters during his three-day visit to Nepal, which ends Saturday.

Nepal is trying to woo investment from its giant neighbors China and India. New Delhi recently offered billions of dollars in both investments and development grants.

China's state-backed Three Gorges International Corp. is negotiating with Nepal over construction of a $1.6 billion power plant over the Seti River in western Nepal that can generate 750 megawatts of electricity.

"Nepal has power shortages and electricity is essential for Nepal's efforts to industrialize, to create more jobs, to build its capacity in independent development and to raise quality of lives of its people," Wang told reporters in Katmandu, Nepal's capital.

He said China could assist Nepal in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, science and technology, tourism, security and law enforcement.

Wang said China and Nepal have some common security needs and that they need to work together to crack down on "illegal border crossing and transnational crime" — an apparent reference to Tibetans who flee to India from China through Nepal to join the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader has lived in exile for decades in India's Himalayan foothill city of Dharamsala, after fleeing China following a failed 1959 uprising.

The Dalai Lama gave up his political role as the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile in 2011. Chinese officials, however, denounce him as a separatist.

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