Nepal has won world respect: Ban (Lead)

October 31st, 2008 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 31 (IANS) Marking a major diplomatic victory for Nepal’s Maoist government, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday said the Himalayan republic has earned the admiration and respect of the entire international community.Arriving in Kathmandu Friday evening on a two-day visit in the course of his four-nation trip to Asia, the UN chief said he was “proud that the UN has been a close partner in Nepal’s development effort, in its struggle to end the 10-year conflict, in the fight to promote and defend human rights, and in the implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement”.

The UN chief is the first international dignitary to arrive in Nepal since the former communist guerrillas formed the new government in August.

His visit sends out the message to the world that the 10-year-old insurgency that killed over 13,000 people in Nepal has ended and that the Maoists, once banned as a terrorist organisation, are now a mainstream party that has renounced violence.

Ban, who flew in from New Delhi on a special UN aircraft, was met at the Tribhuvan International Airport by Nepal’s foreign minister Upendra Yadav and tourism and civil aviation minister Hisila Yami.

Ban held parleys with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda over the integration of the Maoist guerrilla army, the People’s Liberation Army, with the state army and whether the UN’s political wing the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), that is managing the arms and combatants of the PLA, would have its tenure extended.

UNMIN’s tenure ends in January.

Issuing a message after his arrival, Ban said he had come to congratulate the people of Nepal for the “remarkable historic progress they have made in establishing peace, and, in particular, for the successful election of the Constituent Assembly in a largely peaceful process last April that has earned the admiration and respect of the entire international community”

Describing Nepal as an important member state of the UN and a country undergoing a “remarkable political-social transformation through a home-grown peace process and national reconciliation”, the UN chief said that he had been watching the unfolding peace process even before he became the world body’s head.

“Since taking office I have given my full personal support to the work of the UN in support of the peace process,” he said.

Reaffirming the UN’s firm commitment to continue to support the consolidation of peace and reform, the UN chief, however, cautioned Nepal that though “much has been accomplished, much also remains to be done”.

“There are still numerous challenges to overcome,” he added.

On Saturday, Ban will be flown to northern Nepal in a Nepal Army helicopter for a view of the spectacular Himalayan peaks, including Mt Everest. During the day, he will also meet President Ram Baran Yadav, who this year replaced King Gyanendra as head of state, the foreign minister and Jhalanath Khanal, leader of the second largest party in the government, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist.

Ban will also address a special session of the Constituent Assembly and hold a separate meeting with former prime minister and present opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala.

After a press conference at noon, he will then fly to Lumbini town in Nepal’s southern Terai plains for a guided tour of one of the holiest Buddhist shrines.

The Buddha was born in Lumbini and Ban, a Buddhist, will also visit the temple erected in honour of the Buddha’s mother Maya Devi.

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