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Arlen Specter Visits Nepal
U.S. senator declines to meet with Maoist leaders
Rajan Pokhrel (rajanp)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-08-14 16:24 (KST)   
After a meeting with Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Aug. 13, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said that Nepal was capable of deciding its own political future. The senator also met with others in Nepal, including the leaders of political parties.

Talking to reporters at the prime minister's residence, he added that all parties that joined the government should be willing to abide by democracy and democratic rules.

Specter also pointed out that the U.S. couldn't favor the inclusion of armed forces in the government. He didn't comment on the Maoists directly, but he said that the United States wants to see Nepal emerge with a unified government where there would be law and order.

Specter, who arrived in Kathmandu on Aug. 12 for a two day visit, also met with K.P.Sharma Oli, who is both the deputy prime minister and the foreign minister, as well Subash Nemwang, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

According to the U.S. embassy's Web site the senator's visit to Nepal is part of a fact-finding trip to various countries including Nepal, China, Bhutan, Israel and Libya.

On July 1, U.S. ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty threatened to suspend U.S. assistance to Nepal if an interim government was formed with the Maoists before they gave up their weapons. Washington's total aid to Nepal equaled $45 million this year.

Washington still regards the Maoists as a terrorist organization. The Department of State included Nepal's Maoists on its terrorist list in October 2003. Moriarty has reiterated that Washington will not consider the Maoists as a political party until they give up their arms.

The Maoists have already met with Indian and Swedish envoys to Nepal but the rebel leaders have not spoke with U.S. officials in Kathmandu. Sources at the U.S. embassy said that the senator had no intention of meeting the Maoists in Nepal. Gopal Pahadi, the leader of the Nepali Congress Party said that this would not hamper Nepal's peace efforts.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rajan Pokhrel

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