Nepal not part of SPP, does not intend to join it, home minister tells ParliamentKhand responds to lawmakers on behalf of Prime Minister and Defence Minister Deuba.
Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand said on Thursday that Nepal is not part of the State Partnership Program of the United States government and that it has no intention of joining it.
Khand was responding to queries of lawmakers on behalf of Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
The State Partnership Program (SPP) has become a hotly debated topic lately, leaving the political and intellectual circles in Nepal divided.
With some sections of the media publishing what they called a draft proposal of an agreement between the Nepal Army and Utah National Guard of the United States. Speculations that Nepal is set to join the SPP have sparked furore.
Lawmakers have been demanding clarification from Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on the matter. Deuba, however, skipped Thursday’s Parliament meeting. Hence, Khand responded to lawmakers on behalf of Deuba, who is also the defence minister.
“I want to make it clear that Nepal is not involved in the SPP and has no intention to be part of it,” said Khand. “I would like to express this commitment on behalf of the government.”
Stating that Nepal follows Panchsheel and non-alignment policy, Khand said Nepal will never become part of any military alliance.
Earlier on Wednesday a number of lawmakers including those from the ruling Nepali Congress and the main opposition CPN-UML demanded that the prime minister come clean on the issue.
Khand also made it clear that Nepal has always received assistance from armies of the neighbouring and friendly countries during the time of crises.
“Foreign armies have come [to Nepal] for relief and rescue operations during the time of natural disasters. We have also sent [our armies],” said Khand. “Armies from 34 countries had come here after the 2015 earthquakes.”
Deuba is scheduled to visit Washington, in the first official visit by a sitting Nepali prime minister in two decades, most probably in mid-July.
The debate over the SPP has arisen just ahead of Deuba’s planned visit to the US.
Amid controversy over the SPP, the US embassy in Kathmandu said on Wednesday that the United States accepted Nepal’s participation in 2019 after its two requests in 2015 and 2017.
The Nepal Army, however, refuted the embassy claims, saying there has been no agreement on SSP.