US Under Secretary wrapped up Kathmandu trip: What were her talking points?

Hinting that the US will have more engagements with China in the days to come, Victoria Nuland emphasized implementation of MCC project, corruption control, conclusion of transitional justice process and improved investment climate.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, who arrived in Kathmandu Sunday evening, wrapped up her trip on Monday. On Monday she met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN-UML Chair KP Oli, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal.

In each of these meetings, Nuland, who is the first top US official to visit Nepal after the government leadership change in Kathmandu, raised some pressing issues including the implementation of MCC project, the transitional justice process, and Nepal-US bilateral ties.

She congratulated Prime Minister Dahal and his coalition on a successful election and talked about promoting shared interests in inclusive development, democracy, and human rights. “Open, diverse, and inclusive governments make democracies stronger,” she wrote on Twitter while posting the photo of her meeting with Sher Bahadur Deuba. With Deuba, she discussed ways to strengthen Nepal’s democracy, fight corruption, and promote human rights and economic growth via #SummitForDemocracy. 

With CPN-UML Chair KP Oli, she discussed efforts to build on our historical ties, bolster democratic resiliency, and strengthen Nepal’s economy through partnerships with our innovative foreign assistance agency MCC. 

Nuland reinforced these messages during the press meeting in Kathmandu. “We have been long-term friends and supporters of Nepal’s democracy, its independence, and sovereignty,” said Nuland addressing the press meeting. “We have historic investments here in health, education, agriculture, and economic growth.”

According to her, the US is planning to invest over a billion dollars in Nepal over the next five years in green energy, electrification of the country, small and medium-sized enterprises, women-led businesses, and businesses led by underrepresented groups.

She described PM Prachand, Deuba, Oli, and foreign minister Bimala Rai Paudyal as long-standing friends and partners of the US. “All of these individuals are long-standing partners of the United States and we have worked together over many years to support democracy here and support economic development,” Nuland said.

Nuland particularly mentioned the MCC project, the transitional justice process, and the improving the investment climate in Nepal. “ We talked about the next steps in finalizing the MCC project.  We talked about the plan of the government to initiate the legislation to finalize the transitional justice process and what the United States might be able to do to support implementation thereafter,” said the American diplomat.  “We talked about how to strengthen the climate for investment and international business here. We also talked about the need to continue fighting corruption. We have the same issues in the United States and all democracies have to work hard to keep themselves clean.”

Responding to the queries of journalists, Nuland said that it was important for her to come to Kathmandu so early in the new government’s term in order to talk about the project that could be implemented together, to strengthen democracy, to strengthen partnership on global issues and strong partnership in United Nations and to support transitional justice process.

Amid the concerns in Kathmandu among policymakers and politicians over the growing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China, Nuland appeared to deliver a reassuring message. “When we talk to the government here, we say, [you] have partnerships and economic relations with all of your neighbors. But just ensure when you do that you are protecting your own sovereignty that the deals you sign are good for Nepal and there is no corruption in them and everything is transparent and open.”
“We welcome Nepal having good relations with all of its neighbors.”

She was of the view that Nepal should think about what is good for Nepal’s democracy and prosperity rather than choosing one or the other side. “We obviously have excellent relationships with India. With regard to China, President Biden and Xi Jinping sat down together in November. We will have more engagements with China in the coming weeks,” she said. “So it’s not about one or the other, it’s about what is good for Nepal’s democracy, Nepal’s prosperity.”