Amid SPP confusion, Home Secretary blunders saying withdrawal letter has been sent to US

The confusion doesn’t seem to be over over the US government’s state partnership program, even a week after the Nepalese government decided not to go ahead.

On Monday, Interior Minister Khand caused confusion.

Speaking at the National Assembly on behalf of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also Defense Minister, Khand said the Nepali government decided on June 20 not to go ahead with the PSP and that A letter to this effect had already been written. [to the United States] through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Some sections of the media were quick to pick up the information, as it came from the Minister of Interior, and reported that Nepal had written to the United States to demand an end to its participation in the SPP.

“Whether Nepal is part of the Nepalese-U.S. Armed Forces Exchange and Assistance State Partnership Program has been the subject of national debate and has also been seriously debated in the House. “, said Khand. “The Council of Ministers has already decided that Nepal will not move forward on the State Partnership Programme. We have sent the decision [to the US] through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nepal’s participation in the SPP has become a hot topic of debate in Nepal, with opposition parties as well as the ruling coalition demanding that the government end its association with the SPP.

That Nepal is part of the SPP only recently became clear after the US Embassy in Kathmandu said Nepal’s bid was accepted in 2019 following two applications in 2015 and 2017.

Speaking to the Post after the National Assembly meeting, Khand clarified that he had only mentioned that the decision taken by the Cabinet had been conveyed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I didn’t say more than that,” he said. “The decision taken by the Cabinet has been transmitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is now up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take further action in accordance with the government’s decision.

As the Post reported last week, a letter regarding the Cabinet decision was not sent to the Foreign Office until Thursday.

The copy of the letter from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Council of Ministers, which is seen in the post, states “in accordance with the Work Procedure Regulations-2064 BS and its article 29, the decision of the Cabinet not to go forward on the The United States of America State Partnership Program is forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The letter dated June 23 is signed by Chief Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and is addressed to Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudyal.

Although it received the letter regarding the June 20 Cabinet decision to block the PSP process, the Foreign Office has yet to take any action.

Although government officials claimed that Nepal had never been part of the SPP, an Indo-Pacific Strategy report released in February 2019 mentioned Nepal as a new entrant.

However, there had been no controversy about it until some sections of the media published a document two weeks ago calling it a draft agreement between the Nepal Army and the National Guard of Nepal. Utah of the United States.

The US Embassy in Kathmandu reacted, calling the document “forged” and stating that Nepal joined the SPP in 2019.

Opposition and ruling parties launched a blame game as parliament’s international relations committee summoned Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka and army chief Prabhu Ram Sharma on June 18. Both have denied Nepal’s participation in the SPP.

Prime Minister Deuba skipped the House committee meeting.

The government has denied its association with the SPP, but seems unsure how it can get away with it if Nepal, as the US claims, is indeed part of the US military plan.

It was again the US Embassy that issued a statement to further clarify the SPP, in which it also stated that any country can end its partnership with the SPP by writing to the US government.

It came as a boon to the government.

Amid widespread criticism, the Cabinet made the vague decision on June 20.

The Cabinet decision only states that Nepal will not be part of the SPP and does not order the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to write [to the US] or not, according to two knowledgeable sources.

Sources told the Post last week that the US Embassy could have informally conveyed its displeasure to the Nepalese leadership over the cabinet’s decision on the PSP.

Officials, however, say the government has not sent any official communication to the embassy regarding the Cabinet’s decision.

According to officials, Manual P Micaller, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Kathmandu, had a meeting with Chief Secretary Bairagi on Thursday.

“We don’t have details of the meeting,” an official said. “Probably the chief secretary communicated the government’s decision, but we can’t say for sure.”

The Foreign Ministry’s Europe and America division has prepared a draft to be sent to the United States, sources said.

But the political leadership has not given the green light, so no decision has yet been made, according to another Foreign Ministry official. The official declined to share the contents of the project, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

Another Foreign Ministry official said no letter had yet been sent to the United States.

Asked about Minister Khand’a’s statement to the National Assembly, the official joked, “It would be better if you ask the minister.”

Rita Dhital, Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said she was unaware of the development and statement made by Minister Khand.

Foreign policy experts say ministers and officials should exercise caution when making statements when it comes to diplomatic and sensitive issues involving friendly countries.

“We have to have good relations with the United States and other friendly countries and we have to be careful not to irritate them,” said Dinesh Bhattarai, who has served as foreign relations adviser to two prime ministers.

“Our neighbors need to watch carefully. Furthermore, I see no reason why the government would not write to the United States to mention the cabinet’s decision,” said Bhattarai, who also served as Nepal’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva. “While the government should inform Americans of its position, it should also maintain good relations with the United States.”

According to Bhattarai, Nepal can make good use of Army Chief Sharma’s (current) visit and Prime Minister Deuba’s upcoming visit to the United States to clarify things about the SPP and the controversy surrounding it in the Nepal.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kathmandu said it had no official knowledge of the Nepalese government’s decision on the SPP.

“We acknowledge the public statements by the Nepalese Cabinet regarding its desire not to proceed with the state partnership program,” the embassy said in a brief email response to the Post. “SPP events can only take place with the approval of the Government of Nepal.”

About Thomas Brown

Check Also

Trade, security on agenda of Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia – Saudi minister

Strengthening trade ties and regional security will be priorities during an upcoming visit by Chinese …