US delegation thanks Nepal for MCC ratification, support to UkraineThe lawmakers offer more US cooperation in the field of climate change and poverty alleviation.
The visiting US parliamentary delegation has thanked the government and political leaders of Nepal for the ratification of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact, Nepal’s support towards Ukraine and the acceptance of a $659 million grant through the US aid agency.
The Congressional delegation from Washington is here chiefly to seek solidarity against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It also took up regular US concerns with Nepal and assured that the United States will support Nepal's sovereignty, territorial integrity and the strengthening of democratic institutions, according to multiple leaders and officials who are familiar with the meetings in Kathmandu.
A day after arriving in Kathmandu, the delegation met with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka, and opposition leader and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli on Saturday.
It also held talks with the Nepal-US Parliamentary Committee.
The US parliamentary team led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Cory Booker (New Jersey), Mark Kelly (Arizona), and Representative Mondaire Jones (17th Congressional District, New York) and some senior officials from various US departments.
According to Rajan Bhattarai, chief of the UML’s foreign relations department, the American lawmakers during their meeting with Oli said that they will support the strengthening of democracy and democratic institutions in Nepal and Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
After huge uproar and controversy, Nepal’s parliament ratified the MCC at the end of February.
Nepal had also rallied behind the groups of nations that have opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and only last week, the government decided to accept a $659 million (Rs79.71 billion) grant from the United States Agency for International Development.
While meeting the American delegation, Prime Minister Deuba thanked the United States for its continued support to Nepal, including during the difficult times of the 2015 earthquakes and the recent Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Both sides underscored the importance of parliamentary interactions for the enrichment of the multidimensional Nepal-US friendship. Views were also exchanged on institutionalising democracy and cooperation in climate change,” a foreign ministry statement reads.
During the meeting with Foreign Minister Khadka, the US Congressional delegation reaffirmed their country’s commitment to working closely with Nepal on the matters of common interests.
“Matters related to agriculture and food security as well as Nepal’s role in the UN peacekeeping also featured during the conversation,” the ministry added.
During the meeting with members of the Nepal-US Parliamentary Committee, the US delegation said that Washington wants to work with Nepal on the issue of climate change, poverty alleviation, and global peace, according to Nawaraj Silwal, a UML lawmaker on the committee.
“Nepali parliamentarians said that Nepal is ready to join hands with the US on the issue of climate change but the developed countries should contribute more on behalf of the poorer nations,” said Silwal.
The US delegation also raised the issues that the US side has taken up with Nepali officials regularly, said an official who attended the visiting delegates’ meetings with the prime minister and the foreign minister.
One issue that the US has always raised concerns refugees in Nepal and the problems faced by the Tibetan refugees without identity cards.
Around 10,000 Tibetans living in various refugee camps in Nepal are deprived of identification cards, according to one Tibetan refugee leader.
The US delegation’s Nepal visit is part of their tour of several countries to shore up support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Nepali and American officials have said that more high-level exchanges between the two countries are likely this year as Nepal and the United States are celebrating 75 years of their diplomatic ties.
“During our meeting, the visiting US lawmakers expressed their commitment to continuing necessary assistance for Nepal's prosperity, livelihoods and inclusive development,” said Minendra Rijal, who heads the Nepal-US parliamentary committee. “We conveyed to them that MCC is a very important resource for Nepal's infrastructure development and renewable energy and so on.”
Nepal will be using the $500 million grant under the MCC to improve electricity supply and roads.
“The US delegation also praised the Nepal Army for its contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping mission. The US side assured us that they would continue to provide necessary assistance for disaster management in Nepal,” said Rijal, adding that they conveyed to the delegates that Nepal can play an important role in promoting tourism and renewable energy in South Asia.