Friday, October 15, 2004

Nepal: "No coodination of Strategy with India" - Donald Camp

[ We certainly discuss with the government of India the situation in region in general but we carry on our independent foreign policy and independent relationship with Nepal and, of course, Indians do, too. My view is that our hope for Nepal is prosperity, peace and democracy. My view is that the goals of Indian are ultimately the same but we don't coordinate our strategy.]

“Our Hope For Nepal Is Prosperity, Peace And Democracy”


DONALD CAMP, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs, recently visited Nepal. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Camp was a Peace Corps volunteer in India. His assignments have included Consul General in Chengdu, and political officer postings in Beijing, Colombo and Bridgetown. From 1999-2001, he was director for South Asia at the National Security Council. Last week, he came to Kathmandu on a two-day visit. Excerpts of his press meet compiled by KESHAB POUDEL:

On His Visit

I am here for a brief visit of just two days for consultation with our embassy and to meet the members of the government and political leaders here in Kathmandu as a part of an attempt to assesses for myself and for the state department and the US government on current situation in Nepal. I have been here four times. There is no particular reason for my coming right now. It is, I say, sort of periodic visit. I came here five months ago for the meeting of Nepal Development Forum. It is no secret that there has been increased interest in Nepal in the United States and the US government and, of course, we also had security threat here in our Embassy last month. That was a reason for my interest to come here to see the situation.

On His Discussions

It was a part of the regular exchange that we have between our governments on the issue we regularly discuss. Nepalese foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya was recently in the US and we had good exchange on bilateral relationship. Our interest is continuing to improve our relations with Nepal. I discussed the issues of particular interest. I would say a common theme with obviously our hope that the political parties of Nepal will unite to confront the Maoist crisis. Certainly, we have consistently spoken out in favor of unity of political forces.

On Human Rights

Actually, I met in Washington last month the author of this report (by the Human Rights Watch) and told them at the time that we have always been supportive of effort to promote human rights in Nepal. We were very frank about the human rights situation in this country. I referred them to our human rights report which, I hope, everyone has a copy of. It clearly states our concern and those concerns have been reiterated by our ambassador from his first speech when he arrived here and we certainly raised human rights issues with the Nepalese officials. When I was here for the Nepal Development Forum meeting we had raised the human rights issues in that context. First of all, I would simply like to say that the charge the US government does not pay enough attention to the Human Rights is wrong. As far as the proposed Congressional actions, which were referred in a paper this morning is concerned, it is an indication how seriously our Congress and people in general are concerned about the situation of human rights in Nepal. I would say that one needs to look at human rights not only from the point of view of the government. It certainly has the responsibility to uphold human rights but obviously also the other protagonist in this dispute - that is the Maoists.

On Continued Support to RNA

We are both concerned with human rights situation in Nepal and convinced that it is important to provide support to the Royal Nepal Army. We think those two goals are compatible. We have urged the government of Nepal to do everything it can to improve the human rights situation. We believe that we played an important role and continue to play important role in providing security assistance to Nepal.

On Political Situation

I don't think it is our role to try to tell political leadership how they should deal with the Maoists. We have confined our advice - public and private - to the view that democratic forces should be united and that it backs important dimension to achieving any kinds of resolution of the Maoist crisis. We want to see the democratic parties supported by the people should be together.

On Constitutional Monarchy

This is a system of constitutional monarchy and the King has certainly his role and responsibility. I think he is working with the parties and we saw the meeting that the Peace Committee had the other day. I think he is working with the parties and that is the very positive step. We support the people, parties and the King in their efforts to deal with current political and Maoist crisis. It is not our role and nor should be our role to dictate how that should be done. Our view is that this is a constitutional monarchy and that what is being done should remain within the constitution. We are comfortable with the Constitution in Nepal but people of Nepal have to make a decision on what kind of monarch they want to see.

On Elections Commission

My meeting with the Chief Elections Commissioner was just for the purpose of information
gathering. There was obviously discussion on the elections in this country and I was personally curious as to what the plans and procedures were.

On US Policy Vis-à-vis Elections There

I am a career employee of the Department of State and I am a civil servant. The presidential elections are important, obviously, to the United States but the elections do not foreshadow any change in the U.S relationship with Nepal. That is something on which I would say we have no political differences in the United States.

On India

We certainly discuss with the government of India the situation in region in general but we carry on our independent foreign policy and independent relationship with Nepal and, of course, Indians do, too. My view is that our hope for Nepal is prosperity, peace and democracy. My view is that the goals of Indian are ultimately the same but we don't coordinate our strategy.

On Chinese Stand

As a layman, my personal impression is that Chinese have disavowed entirely the Maoists of Nepal and disavowed the suggestion that these people are inheritors of Mao.

Nepal News 15/10/2004