US ready to do business with Maoists in Nepal

May 29th, 2008 - 11:33 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 29 (IANS) The United States has signalled its willingness to work with former Maoist rebels who are set to lead the new Nepal government, but said its extent would depend on their staying away from violence. However, despite the revision of its longstanding policy of not talking to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Washington would not remove the Maoists yet from two US terrorist-linked designations that barred party officials from visiting the country and froze their assets, a senior State Department official said Thursday.

US is now working with the Maoists to try to encourage a stable, democratic and peaceful country, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum, who has just returned from Nepal after meeting Maoist chief Prachanda who is set to lead the new government.

“In terms of next steps, I really wouldn’t want to speculate,” he said. “It is going to depend. They are on the (terrorism) list, they remain on the list for the moment.

“There has been a policy that we had of not making contact with the Maoists. The fact that (US Ambassador to Nepal) Nancy Powell met them and that I met them should suggest to you that we have just revised that policy with respect to this group,” Feigenbaum said.

“We took a policy decision” based on their participation in the political process, he said.

Powell met Prachanda earlier this month in the first meeting between a US official and the leader of the Maoists, who abandoned their 10-year armed revolt and joined the national peace process in 2006.

They have since joined mainstream politics and received the most seats in April 10 elections for a Constituent Assembly that will rewrite the constitution, decide Nepal’s future political system and govern the nation.

Taking note of Nepal’s historic transition from a monarchy to a republic, State Department spokesman Tom Casey Wednesday said: “There’s been a political transition. There have been elections. The new government is in place and moving forward.

“Certainly, it’s a situation we continue to watch and we continue to urge forward political developments in that country,” he said.

“We have had some conversations with those officials in part to verify that some of the efforts that we can make in terms of being able to provide humanitarian assistance and other programmes are going to be able to move forward,” he added.

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