The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Sunday, October 8, 2006

Nepal, Bhutan to hold talks over refugees in November- KP OLI

Nepal, Bhutan to hold talks over refugees in November
Kantipur Report


Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that Nepal and Bhutan will hold foreign minister level talks next month to resolve the Bhutanese refugee crisis.
Talking to media persons at the Tribhuwan International Airport on Friday morning, Oli, who returned from New York after attending the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations, said that he and Bhutanese Prime Minister Khandu Wangchuk, who also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, had agreed to hold a ministerial level talks this coming November.
This will be the 16th round of talks between the two countries to resolve the long-standing Bhutanese refugee crisis.
Most of the refugees fled Bhutan in the late 1980s, when the Bhutanese government, dominated by the majority Drukpa ethnic group, accused the minority Lothsampa group of being illegal immigrants.
Talks between Nepal and Bhutan on the refugee issue produced no breakthrough and have been stalled for a couple of years.
Reiterating Nepal's wish for a respectful return of all Bhutanese refugees to their homeland, "despite the recent US proposal to take in some 60,000 Bhutanese refugees", Oli said, "If Bhutan tries to create hindrances in the refugee management process, Nepal can still think of an alternative means to resolve the crisis."
On the country's ongoing peace process Oli said he is confident that upcoming government-Maoist Summit talks will be successful in bringing about sustainable peace in the country.
Stating that unless the summit talks address the present political and technical problems facing the country, the constituent assembly elections will be jeopardised, he said that everyone should work towards making the talks a success.
Fielding queries regarding the vacant positions of Nepali ambassadors in various countries, Oli said, "Since the technical problems have already been dealt with, the government at the moment is working to make the necessary appointments."
Oli had gone to New York to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations after participating in a meeting of Non-Aligned Nations in Havana, Cuba.
The foreign minister also informed that he had an informal meeting with the US president George W Bush during which the latter said that the US is ready to extend any sort of assistance for the restoration of peace in Nepal.
Oli also added that Nepal had established diplomatic ties with three new countries during the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The latest countries to establish diplomatic ties with Nepal are Andora, Congo and Bhangwata in the Asia Pacific, sources quoting the minister said.

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