The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nepal asked to delay the talk to Bhutan

We are for Dissolving the refugees: says Boucher

I am hopeful but I am also realistic, says Boucher
Nepal news:

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, has said that though he is hopeful about the current peace process bringing in political stability in Nepal, he is also 'realistic' about it.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher (File Photo)
"Maoists have to give up weapons; send their forces to cantonments; end harassment, coercion, beatings and the efforts they make to keep political parties out of villages," Boucher said when asked if the current peace process would restore political stability in the country.

Addressing a press conference at the capital on Thursday evening, Boucher said, "We want to see the peace process work. We pledge our full support."

On the issue of Maoists joining the government, Boucher said that the US will find ways to continue its support to the people of Nepal on economic recovery, health and education. He said that the Maoists could need to completely renounce violence if they want to come off the US terrorist list.

Asked if the US government was prepared to deal with the Maoists, he said, "We are fully prepared to deal with them as a political party once they start behaving like one."

For now, he said, "We haven't seen them change their behavior. We haven't seen them act like a political party. So, its not a time to deal with them."

Boucher said that the Maoists should not go on a half foot when it comes to renouncing violence. He regretted that 'Prachanda still talks about reserving the right to raise weapons.' "You don't walk into parliament with guns in your pocket," he said.

In response to a question how the US finds the agreement on arms management whereby the Maoists get to keep the key of the single lock under which their weapons will be stored, Boucher said, "I don't think it's the matter of keys. It's the matter of intention." He, however, hastened to add that he has full confidence on the UN's ability and expertise on this matter.

On the issue of monarchy, Boucher said, "The King's action last year and his unwillingness to reconcile with the political parties damaged his reputation and his role." He said the US would support whatever decision the people of Nepal make regarding the fate of monarchy.

Regarding the issue of Bhutanese refugees, Boucher – who arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday from Bhutan – said, "We are in favor of repatriation for those who qualify. We are in favor of third country resettlement for those who make this choice. Above all, we are in favor of resolving this issue."

The US government had recently said that it was willing to resettle up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. This US comment has triggered a controversy among the refugees with some welcoming the offer and others terming it as a move that could derail the process of repatriation.

This is Boucher's second visit to Nepal after the April change. He is currently on a tour of South Asian countries. He will leave for New Delhi on Friday.

During his stay in Kathmandu, Boucher met with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, senior officials, and chief of army staff, among others. sd Nov 16 06

Related News

Nepal - Bhutan Talks Postponed Again

The Himalayan times; Kathmandu, November 16

The 16th foreign minister-level talks between Nepal and Bhutan over the refugee issue have been postponed again.
The talks were scheduled to be held on November 21-22 in Thimpu after the talks originally scheduled to be held in Kathmandu earlier in November were postponed on Bhutan’s request.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs KP Sharma Oli confirmed the postponement. Oli was talking to newsmen after his meeting with the EU Troika. The talks will now be held sometime in December even though the venue and dates for the talks were yet to be fixed.
While the talks were postponed for the first time on Bhutan’s request, this time the talks were postponed because of Nepal’s political situation, Oli said.

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