Victoria Nuland prods Nepal to strike balance in ties with India and China

Victoria Nuland prods Nepal to strike balance in ties with India and China

KATHMANDU: In a message to China and Russia, US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said autocrats are trying to change global rules by force.

Nuland, who visited Kathmandu on Sunday and Monday, told a news conference that the United States is working with Nepal and several other countries to strengthen democracy despite autocrats trying to forcefully change global rules. However, she avoided labeling Chinese and Russian leaders as autocrats.

The US diplomat said her country values ​​its ties with Nepal. “It’s hugely important for the US to have partners like Nepal who are working every day to strengthen their democracy, and we’re working on that at home, too,” she said.

Nuland, who met with Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and key leaders of the ruling and opposition parties on Monday, hailed the country’s path to strengthening democracy by concluding the ongoing transitional justice process by consensus through Parliament.

I congratulated Prime Minister Dahal and his coalition on a successful election. The US looks forward to deepening 75 years of 🇺🇸🇳🇵 connections to advance our shared interests in inclusive development, democracy and human rights with @MCCgov in support of economic growth.

— Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (@UnderSecStateP) January 30, 2023

“Nepal has had good election rounds lately. In strengthening democracy, Nepal has set a spectacular example not only in this region but worldwide. We see what is happening around the world. We see autocrats attempting to use force to change the global rules of the road. This is not the Nepalese way and this is not the American way. We want our systems and citizens to live in freedom, we want them to have choices about how they are governed; We want the government to serve the people and not the other way around. That is the key component of our democracies,” she said.

Meets CPN-UML Nepal Chair Oli to discuss efforts to build on our historical connections, strengthen democratic resilience and strengthen Nepal’s economy through partnerships with our innovative foreign aid agency @MCCgov.

— Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (@UnderSecStateP) January 30, 2023

On the ongoing US-China rivalry around the world, including in Nepal, Nuland said her country is working to improve ties with China. “President Biden sat down with China’s Xi Jinping in November, and we will hold talks with China in the coming weeks,” she said. There were media reports about preparations for another meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Regarding Nepal’s relations with China and India, she said that by maintaining an independent foreign policy, Nepal can benefit from economic partnerships with its two neighbors. “When we spoke to your government here, we said that Nepal can have economic relations with all your neighbors. But please make sure that in doing so you protect your own sovereignty and that business is good for Nepal and that there is no corruption and everything is open and transparent. Therefore, we welcome Nepal to have good relations with all its neighbors,” she added.

The US diplomat said the United States is working with Nepal to accelerate energy-related projects under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Nepal Compact, which was ratified by the country’s parliament last year despite China’s objections.

“We want to support Nepal on its way to becoming a stronger economic power by using the potential of hydropower,” she said.

The US diplomat held marathon meetings Monday with Nepalese leaders including Prime Minister Prachanda, Nepalese Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, UML Chairperson KP Sharma Oli and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai. She ended her visit to Nepal with a visit to Patan Durbar Square, a heritage site in the capital.

Nuland, who was appointed US Undersecretary for Political Affairs in mid-2021, is the first senior US official to come to Kathmandu following the formation of Nepal’s new government in December last year. She left Kathmandu for New Delhi on Monday. Nuland will also visit Sri Lanka.

Also Read: Will Nepal Become a Battleground of Sino-US Rivalry During Xi Jinping’s Third Term?

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal Correspondent based in Kathmandu)

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