By Binaj Gurubacharya / The Associated Press
KATHMANDU, Nepal – Fuel-starved Nepal has signed an agreement with China to import gasoline, diesel and cooking gas, effectively ending a monopoly on supply from India, which has restricted fuel convoys as a result of political protests in the Himalayan nation.
The decision to import Chinese oil amid severe shortages has brought China a step closer to Nepal, which traditionally is more influenced by India in the south. The two Asian giants have been jostling for influence in landlocked Nepal.
Nepal sent a team of officials this week to Beijing, where they signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday with China National United Oil Corp., said Nepal Oil Corp. official Deepak Baral.
Details on how much fuel Nepal will receive, prices and other arrangements still need to be worked out, Baral said, but he confirmed the supply would be on a regular basis.
It would be the first time for Nepal to import Chinese fuel. It has so far relied exclusively on India for its energy needs.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup declined comment on Nepal’s agreement with China.
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