US could restore arms supplies to Nepal

In a move that is likely to make India angry, the US is moving quickly to restore military supplies to the Himalayan kingdom, a news report said on Wednesday.

The Daily News and Analysis (– an Indian news portal – quoted unnamed government sources of India as saying that the US was set on restoring military supplies to Nepal.

“When contacted, the official spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs refused to comment on the developments. India and the US have recently begun to drastically differ over Nepal, especially on Maoists. The difference flows out of American view of Maoists as terrorists and India’s belief that the Nepali Maoists must be brought to the mainstream and should not be treated just as terrorists,” the news report said.

The US ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty, has been at the forefront advocating the US policy, which is appeasing the Nepali monarch. The US administration has been critical of efforts to engage Maoists, especially the 12-point agreement between the seven parties and Maoists reached in November last year, the news report added.

Indian sources now say that the visit of the Pentagon team is taking the US policy a step closer to .resuming military supplies, “which would embolden the monarch and would be a serious setback to our efforts to restore democracy,” the website quoted an Indian official as saying.

“What do you gain by giving material to the Royal Nepal Army? Some more people would be killed and then the Americans will go home,” the news portal quoted Deb Mukherjee, former Indian ambassador to Nepal, as saying. “It will not solve the Nepal problem.”

The US embassy officials in Kathmandu could not be reached for comments.

During his visit to Kathmandu early this month—just a week after the President George W. Bush’s visit to South Asia—US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Donald Camp, had flatly denied reports that the Bush administration was likely to resume arms supply to Nepal. “First, we can not have a kind of cooperation with Nepal since February 1 last year. We would like to see the return of the situation of pre-February 1 where we were contributors to the security assistance,” Camp told reporters at a press conference. “The second legal aspect is that the Leahy amendment prohibits financing security assistance to Nepal until Nepal has returned to democracy and certain conditions on human rights have been fulfilled.”. by Mar 29 06

Laurie Vasily