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Indian officials are exploring five options for a railway to neighbouring Nepal, speeding up efforts after China opened its first rail link to Tibet last year, a report said on Saturday.The surveys on the viability of the rail projects have acquired ‘top priority’ in the railway ministry because of concerns over Chinese plans to extend the Tibetan line to the Nepal border, a newspaper reported. The Tibet railway, which opened in July, runs 1,142 kilometers (713 miles) from Qinghai province to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, making it the highest line in the world. Kathmandu said last year that Beijing was willing to extend the line into Nepal.

Kathmandu said last year that Beijing was willing to extend the line into Nepal.

“Although the Lhasa-Nepal link may neither be technically feasible nor financially viable, the strategic importance of such a link cannot be undermined,” a senior Indian railway official told the newspaper.

China also has plans to build a railway line to the Tibetan town of Chomo near a Himalayan border pass to the Indian state of Sikkim in the next 10 years.

Last year, India and China agreed to open the border pass to revive direct trade.

The pass was closed 44 years ago following a brief war between the two nations.

The two Asian giants have also been holding talks to sort out a decades-old border row, though the border has remained largely peaceful since the war.

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