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India and Nepal restore rail link

India and Nepal restored passenger rail services between them on Saturday, as Kathmandu is increasingly courted by China.

Nepal has traditionally balanced New Delhi and Beijing, but analysts say Indian influence over Kathmandu has diminished as China invests heavily in the landlocked Himalayan country.

But Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has made India his first foreign destination since returning to power last year.

As part of a three-day visit, he met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Saturday and they practically flagged down a passenger train from the Indian state of Bihar to Nepal.

It is the first such rail link between the neighbors since services were halted for upgrades in 2014.

The two leaders agreed to prioritize trade and cross-border connectivity initiatives, Modi said.

“Such programs will wonderfully contribute to a smooth and hassle-free exchange of people between the two countries,” he said.

The two countries have also finalized agreements on the supply of petroleum products and issued a joint vision statement on cooperation in the electricity sector.

Deuba’s trip south comes just days after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nepal and India.