Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exclusive interview with Nancy powell


Exclusive interview with Nancy powell


No basis to claim better US ties with Maoists, says envoy PowellKathmandu, December 10:US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell gave an exclusive interview to The Himalayan Times and discussed a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
THT: How is the US relationship with the Maoists shaping up? Is it improving as CP Gajurel claimed recently?
I am not aware of what the Maoists are referring to as a warming relationship. I have now been here for the past four months, there is very little that would inspire me to think that our relationship would get better or there was a reason for it to get better. When I arrived in August, there were five Maoist ministers and all of the parties were working towards the election in November. In the past four months, the Maoists have left their ministerial position. The Maoists got to admit the majority of the blame for the cancellation of the election with their demands and they are consistent that they could not go forward with the election.The newspapers carry listing of the various atrocities that have been committed by the Maoist group in one form or another. These happenings in the past four months certainly do not point in that direction to me. So I don’t see the foundation for what Mr Gajurel and others have described as a warming relationship until we see some progress on the other things.
THT: You appear to have taken a quieter and softer approach toward the Maoists and the King, unlike the vocal criticism practised by ambassador Moriarty.
His noting of violation of the CPA, violation of human rights were made at a time when it was very hard for Nepalis to speak out — they were perhaps fearful. His courage in speaking out was very important. Since I came in August, I have noticed that Nepalis are speaking out now, with a great deal of courage and force. I don’t want to drown out that voice with mine. I would like to continue to support the Nepalis who are speaking out. It’s not that I am not critical of violation of human rights and laws here, but I think there are voices in Nepal who are doing that and they can certainly be much more articulate than I.
THT: President Carter promised a review of US policy on the Maoists, including removal of the CPN (M) from the terrorist watch list. Is this going to happen?
President Carter did not make any comment about the terrorist list, that he did not make the recommendation that they be taken off the list. He made a recommendation that we should look at whether or not we should be meeting with them. The terrorism list is not a part of his agenda.
THT: Ambassador Moriarty said there was no space for the king, what is your position?
Ambassador Moriarty’s comments were personal. The official American position has not changed — monarchy and what is done with that institution is something for the Nepali people to decide.
THT: What are the key areas or elements that you are focusing on in Nepal’s peace process?
One element clearly is the election and the need to come to an agreement. If you are going to have an election before the beginning of the new Nepali year, you have to take a pact within the next two weeks. I am encouraging a review of the peace process.
THT: What about the integration of PLA and the Nepal Army? Should it happen?
This is a key issue in the peace process and has several dimensions. I think this is clearly a piece that has to happen. It is security sector reform, and I am talking about the police, the armed police and the army, and something that needs to be part of the new Nepal.
THT: What is the US position on electoral system, and the announcement of the republic?
Election is the number one issue in the peace process and they cannot be separated. We want to see a solution that promotes peace and democracy and stability in Nepal. The timing and methodology of the poll system and announcement of the republic is up to the Nepalis to decide.
THT: What is your assessment of the UNMIN? Do you think an expansion of their role would be appropriate?
The decision to ask the UN to come has been very helpful, particularly, when the polls go forward. They have been key to arms monitoring and the peace process. We will definitely support in the UN Security Council an extension of the mandate when that request is made formally by the government of Nepal.
THT: When will Prachanda be visiting the US — one of his greatest wishes?
As long as he is part of a terrorist organisation, individual decisions are made on visas, but it would require us to issue a waiver and I don’t think that would be forthcoming.

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