With an eye on Beijing, senior US official arrives in Kathmandu

Kathmandu: With an eye on China as it has expanded its clout across South Asia, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland arrived in Kathmandu where she will meet members of Nepal’s new government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Nuland is the senior-most foreign dignitary to visit Nepal following the appointment of Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, as Prime Minister on December 25 last year.

During her seven-day travel itinerary, Nuland will be touring Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Qatar between January 28 and February 3, according to the US State Department.

In Nepal, Nuland will engage with the new government on the broad agenda of the US partnership with Nepal, the Department said in a statement.

Nuland is a seasoned American diplomat who has worked with three American Presidents, incumbent Joe Biden, and former Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

With the formation of the government led by the former communist rebel leader and backed by the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the Americans want to stop th Himalayan nation from tilting towards China.

When the Nepal government had decided to accept $500 million US grant under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Beijing tried to disturb it.

Both Washington and Beijing exchanged heated words when Nepali political parties decided to ratify the American grant from the Parliament.

Despite strong reservations from Beijing, Nepal’s parliament in February last year ratified the MCC which is all set to come into operation from August this year.

The US Ambassador in Kathmandu Dean Thompson already said that Washington’s top priority in Nepal goes to the implementation of the MCC.

Still some sections in Nepal have been opposing for MCC implementation.

During an interaction with journalists on January 12, Thompson said that his country attaches top priority to implementing the MCC Nepal compact, not least because he had received encouraging feedback from various stakeholders for its timely implementation.

The $500 million project is set to enter into force from August with the US government wanting to ensure it is executed without any further hindrances.

Nepal government officials said that in addition to regular matters, top US priority is to ensure an unhindered implementation of the MCC in Nepal.

The project should be completed within five years.

Furthermore, the US has also extended another $659 million economic assistance through the USAID for another five years.


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