US mum on Nepal policy after Maoist victory

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 22 (IANS) The US has declined to say if it plans to take the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) off its list of terrorist organisations, now that the Maoists are poised to lead the new government in the Himalayan kingdom. “Well, I’m not sure what, if any discussions, might be going on in that regard,” State Department spokesperson Tom Casey told reporters Monday when asked if the US was rethinking its Nepal policy following the Maoists’ election victory.

“As you know, there are legal criteria that are involved here,” he said, but also hinted at the possibility of a review to resolve the US dilemma.

Washington still regards the CPN-Maoist as a terrorist group although the group formally laid down weapons in 2006 and joined Nepal’s interim coalition government last year.

“I’m sure to the extent that any movement ends its association with terrorism and can do so in a way that would match those or meet those legal hurdles, that we’d certainly take a look at it,” Casey said. “But I can’t tell you at this point whether there is, in fact, an ongoing review related to Nepal.”

Asked if it suggested that the US was not severing any ties with the new government with Maoists in power even though it does not negotiate with terrorists, he parried: “Well, again, you know, an organisation being placed on the list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organisations has legal requirements that are placed on us.

“We have to honour those legal requirements and we’ll certainly do so in the case of Nepal,” he said again hinting at a review.

“To the broader question… certainly, to the extent you have an organisation that moves away from violence and terror, and participates in a political process and engages in those kinds of legitimate activities, you know, that would certainly, I think, give people an opportunity to at least look again at that situation and at that organisation.

“But at this point, you know, there’s no change in their status, and we’ll follow the law as appropriate,” Casey added.

After the Maoist victory, the State Department last week chose to merely congratulate “the people of Nepal on their historic Constituent Assembly election” with no reference to the outcome.

The bland first reaction made no reference at all to the Maoist party, leave alone giving any indication of a rethink of the country’s Nepal policy, which has for long considered preventing a Maoist takeover a key to achieving US regional goals.

“Strengthening Nepal to prevent a Maoist takeover is key to achieving US regional and bilateral goals, including preventing the spread of terror, enhancing regional stability, promoting democracy, and protecting US citizens in Nepal,” is how a recent US Congressional report put it.

“American foreign policy interests in Nepal seek to prevent the collapse of Nepal which should it become a failed state, could provide operational or support territory for terrorists,” it said, suggesting such a scenario could be destabilising to the security dynamics of the region.

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