News Digest International Relations & Foreign Affairs (July 8-14, 2021)

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8 lakh doses of vaccines have arrived from China

8 lakh doses of Verocell vaccines bought from China’s Sinopharm Company has arrived to Nepal on July 9. Nepal has bought 40 lakh doses from the company. The health department has planned to bring remaining doses in two phases.

UK is providing vaccines through COVAX facility

UK has pledged 20 lakhs doses of vaccines to Nepal under COVAX facility, out of which 3 lakh 48 thousand doses has already reached Nepal and the remaining doses of vaccines by August. However, it is unclear whether the all the remaining doses will come at once or not. Further, ADB and World Bank have provided the fund to Nepal government to purchase additional doses of vaccines apart from the 20 lakhs doses of vaccines.

Nepal received medical supplies from Israel

Nepal received medical supplies comprising of ventilators, oxygen concentrators, masks and PPEs from Israeli government and Nepali community residing in Israel. The government of Nepal has conveyed its gratitude to Israel and its citizens along with Nepali community in Israel for its support and cooperation during the pandemic, as stated in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

China striving to form alternative regional bloc in South Asia

China established China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center in Chonqing City on July 8. 5 out of the 8 members of SAARC have joined this initiative. 3 countries that have refrained are India, Bhutan and Maldives. Foreign relation experts have stated that China has come up with this initiative to counter India and enter into the South Asia region. This holds an important underlying geostrategic meaning.

No progress in Nepal’s transit deal with China

Nepal had signed a Transit and Transportation Agreement with China in May 2016. In April 2019, Nepal and China signed the protocol on implementing the agreement, which allowed Nepal to use seven Chinese and Land ports for the trade with other countries. However, Nepal and China is yet to formulate a standard operating procedure on enforcing the transit agreement.

Nepal signs deal with India for Lower Arun Hydropower Project

Nepal signed an agreement with Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam to build a Lower Arun Hydropower Project of 679 MW in eastern Nepal. The project will be built under the Build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model.

Nepal receives 1.5 million doses of J&J vaccine from the US

The US has provided slightly more than 1.5 million doses of Johnsons & Johnson vaccine to Nepal through COVAX. Nepal received the first consignment of the vaccine on July 12. The US envoy stated that the vaccine is a gift from the US with the sole motive to save lives.

China to provide additional vaccines to Nepal

Chinese embassy in a virtual press conference stated that China is providing additional doses of vaccine to Nepal. Chinese ambassador also stated that the focus right now is on the control of the COVID-19 pandemic and China is willing to provide support and cooperation to its neighbouring and friendly countries.

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