SPP debacle: Nepal Army’s request letter to the US becomes public

The letter shows that the Nepal Army, in 2015, had written to the United States Embassy in Kathmandu proposing the SPP with the American government.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Just a day after the Nepal Army claimed there has been no initiation on signing the State Partnership Program (SPP), a document signed by the then Army Chief seeking a military partnership with the United States has become public.

Online portals have published the letter in which the Nepal Army had made a formal request to the US for the establishment of a National Guard State Partnership Program (NGSSP) for Nepal. 

Nepal Army, in 2015, had written to the United States Embassy in Kathmandu proposing the SPP with the American government.

The document, signed by the then Army Chief Rajendra Chhetri, has come out a day after the Nepal Army said, “there has been no understanding in entering into any military agreement with the US Army.”

In the leaked letter, Rajendra Chettri has written a three-point letter to then US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz. The first point of the letter reads: “As authorized by the Government of Nepal, it is our honor to formally request the establishment of a National Guard State Partnership Program (NGSSP) for Nepal in the near future.”

[Related: America responds: US Embassy in Nepal debunks myths and misinformation surrounding State Partnership Program]

The second point reads: “It is firmly believed that this program can promote long-term, enduring and mutually beneficial security relationships to exchange military skills and experience, share defense knowledge, enhance partnership capacity and further mutual security cooperation. It is appreciated that the program can provide support in areas of mutual interest including disaster preparedness and crisis management, aviation logistics, maintenance and safety exchanges, critical infrastructure and natural resources protection, professionalization and Officer/NCO development.”

Likewise, the third point reads, “The Nepalese Army avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the United States of America, in Kathmandu, the assurance of its highest consideration.”

The letter was cc’ed to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

KP Sharma Oli was the prime minister at the time.

[Related: Nepal Army categorically denies any agreement regarding State Partnership Program]

After widespread criticism against both Nepal and US governments, the US Embassy on Wednesday clarified that the Nepal government, in 2015 and 2017, requested to formally engage in the military partnership. Soon after, Nepal Army issued a press statement stating that there has been no understanding in entering into any military agreement with the US Army. 

[Related: Commentary | 75 years of partnership: Is Nepal-US going through a fresh test of trust again?]

The SSP has become a matter of heated debate among political and diplomatic circles in Nepal after a document of the draft agreement said to be proposed to Nepal Army by the US side became public on Tuesday. The US embassy in Kathmandu has said that the ‘leaked’ document is fake.

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