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Humanoid robot Sophia to arrive Nepal today

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KATHMANDU — Sophia, the first humanoid robot that was granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is all set to visit Nepal on Tuesday as a keynote speaker in a conference.

Sophia is part of the United Nations Development Programme’s conference on “Technology for Public Services/Development” on March 21 which is being organised to showcase how technology can offer possibilities of development in the country.

“As part of our efforts to facilitate discussions on how technology and innovation could contribute to better governance, and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP is organizing the conference where Sophia will be take part,” UNDP said in a statement.

“the conference is aimed at helping Nepal find ways to better using technology and innovation for advancing development in a changed federal context,” it further reads.

Sophia will deliver keynote address at the conference and will be followed by presentations from experts and innovators in the areas of inclusive economic growth, democratic governance and resilience.

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Sophia was built by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics in 2015. The inventor David Hanson claims that the robot is imbued with artificial intelligence and can recognise faces.

The humanoid robot’s face can reportedly mimic 62 human facial expressions and with a camera and Google voice recognition software Sophia can recognise the person she is speaking to.

Sophia, now two and a half years old, uses voice and face recognition technology combined with artificial intelligence to carry on conversations with humans. She was first introduced to the United Nations in October this year.

Sophia was interviewed onstage in a stilted conversation at the Future Investment Initiative conference and has been attending various seminars across the world.

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Nepal, China to establish mechanism on Chinese-aid projects; expedite feasibility study and DPR on rail link

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KATHMANDU — Nepal and China have agreed on establishing mechanism on Chinese aid projects in Nepal for the implementation of various key agreements including a cross-country railway link which were reached with China during K P Sharma Oli’s previous stint as prime minister.

At a bilateral meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali held discussions with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the early conduct of a feasibility study and preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Nepal-China Cross Border Railway line.

Minister Gyawali, addressing a joint press conference held after the bilateral meeting, said they held a comprehensive review of the progress made in implementing various other agreements reached during recent high-level visits including the visit of Prime Minister Oli to China in March 2016.

During the meeting held at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, the duo discussed bilateral relations and among other issues of mutual cooperation between Nepal-China.

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Foreign Minister Gyawali said they exchanged views on the draft protocol for the transit and transport agreement and agreed to step up negotiations for its early finalization.

The two foreign ministers also held discussions about implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoU) under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Nepal has expectations that the Initiative should contribute to the development of physical infrastructure, enhancing of cross-border connectivity including by rail and road, promotion of trade, tourism and investment, and people to people relations,” Gyawali further said.

On the occasion, Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang said China-Nepal-India, the three neighbouring countries, are natural allies connected by rivers and mountains.

Wang further said they agreed to continue deepening mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Nepal. “China will give full support and China will continue to encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Nepal in light of need on the ground to contribute to local development,” Wang said.

Saying that China and India are the neighbours of Nepal, the Chinese Minister said the two countries should support Nepal in its development works.

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Talking about Nepal’s vision of multidimensional cross-Himalaya connectivity network, Wang said as China-Nepal have signed BRI cooperation, the connectivity network falls under the part of BRI cooperation. He said BRI further covers links to ports, railways, highways, aviation, electricity and communications.

Moreover, Wang said Nepal could take advantage from cooperation and development of China and India.

On the occasion, Gyawali thanked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang for China’s support for reconstruction projects including the Araniko Highway Repair Project and cross-border bridges at Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi.

Earlier, Minister Gyawali has called on Vice-President of China, Wang Qishan at Zhongnanhai on Wednesday morning.

A press release issued by Nepali Embassy in Beijing mentioned that Foreign Minister Gyawali conveyed the greetings and best wishes of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and said that Nepal appreciates President Xi Jinping’s vision of ‘building a community of shared future for humanity,’ and supports China’s thrust on enhancing cooperation among nations under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Highlighting the fact that Nepal and China have been enjoying excellent relations based on friendship and good neighborliness since ancient times, Vice-President Qishan stressed on fully tapping the potentials of bilateral relations between the two countries.

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